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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Imagine that! By John von Daler

              The small business man strides up and down our hallway talking importantly on our cell phone. He pokes a new number out and in a long strand of gibberish and guesswork gets something started with his call, talking seriously with no one about some non-existent job. His short legs pound the floor with authority until on one side something slides out of place and he reaches down with his available hand and hitches up his diaper.

                The other grandson in our back room fries up a batch of tomatoes in a miniature pan on a make-believe stove and serves them to me right off the fire, standing quietly to hear if they were to my liking. I munch and swallow and sigh the sigh of a contented restaurant guest and ask him for the bill and my overcoat.
                These are not flights of fantasy, or if they fly at all then they are homing pigeons destined for and longing for domesticity. These boys are trying to imagine not castles and knighthood, but what they are themselves and how they fit into their own world.
                In the adult world we have our dungeons and dragons, our aliens, and our starwars. I, though, have never gotten past Philip Roth's answer to a question about how he had imagined his book about Tricky Dick. The real world, he replied, is much more weird and wonderful than any fantasy. Nixon and his henchmen defied our imaginations. You could just write down what happened.
                For this reason I've always found the man next to me on the bus more interesting, frightening, complex or fantastic than any knights of the round table. Once you take that position, then there is only one thing even more difficult to imagine: yourself.  That is what my grandchildren are attempting now and what they probably will forget how to do when they get older.

                In writing the basis of everything is to understand yourself in the world. That takes quite a lot of imagination. Sometimes more than I own.

                My book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) will be published on January 28. Order through, the publisher or your local bookstore. Please feel free to write a short review of "Pieces" in your own language at or GoodReads. Thanks for your support!

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