Saturday, February 24, 2018

Chastising The Pedant and the Shuffly

So, we mentioned a dozen days ago that we were celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Bellairs's second book, The Pedant and the Shuffly. We also noted some of the Chicago influences on the book and hinted there was another Chicago story to tell. And here it is.
As this blog post goes to print it's just after 2 o'clock in Chicago. Our recent Bellairsian quote mentioned that on a Saturday fifty years ago - fifty years ago today, no less - John Bellairs and Marilyn Fitschen attended an autograph session for their new book over at Staver's book store over in Hyde Park. This store, opened by James and Helaine Staver, was but one of many Hyde Park-area bookstores - like Joseph O'Gara's and Kroch's and Brentano's - that Bellairs and friends visited.

Today, then, is the date when legendary author Saul Bellow visited Staver’s and...well, didn’t react favorably to John’s book. The late Alfred Myers related to us back in 2001 that, according to what Bellairs had told him, "Bellow came into the store, casually flipped through [the book], sneered, gave [it] a derogatory snort, and walked away."

Marilyn recalled later that Bellow, who lived nearby at the time, was probably “too courteous for any overt comment or snubbing, and John's ego was pained that Saul walked into the store but didn't pick [it] up.... But there is a point to John's probably imagined snub: the book is slight and certainly not-serious, which is the whole point, right?”

Whatever Bellow did fifty years ago is moot.  Fifty years on, go pick up your own copy, spend fifteen minutes in the Flapping Forrest, and make a point of bringing a little of the Shuffly into your world.  Wanna play, indeed.

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