Recently I wrote a post in which I mentioned some of my favorite books; books that I’ve read numerous times because I like how they make me feel. One of those books is Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale by Chuck Kinder.
Chuck Kinder is the creative writing director at the University of Pittsburgh, PA. Obviously he is also a novelist, though over the course of 30 years he’s only produced four novels. I don’t say this as a slam to Chuck but to express my disappointment as a reader. I’ve read all of his books: Snakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners (probably three or four times) and Last Mountain Dancer and I wish that there were more to read.
I located an e-mail address through the university and dropped him a note telling him I enjoyed his work and asked if he had anything else in the hopper. He wrote back to thank me and, regarding my "any new projects" question, employed the old writer's superstitious fall-back answer, “Not that I'd talk about I'm afraid.”
He also asked what book of his I had read. I told him that I’d read them all, explaining my difficulty in locating The Silver Ghost (at the time it was out of print) and how Honeymooners, Kinder's fictionalized recounting of his friendship with short-story hero, Raymond Carver during the 1960’s and 70’s, remains my favorite.
It was shortly after this exchange that I wrote my "Lost Generations and Manuscripts" post. Thinking Chuck might get a kick out it, and yes in an attempt to kiss a little ass, I e-mailed him the link. He wrote back to tell me he was “touched” and he asked for my snail-mail address in-case “something new or perchance old pops into publication”.
Right before Christmas I received a large envelope in the mail. The return address read Chuck Kinder: Creative Writing Director, University of Pittsburgh. Inside I found a November issue of City Paper, a Pittsburgh newspaper similar to the SF Guardian. With this issue, City Paper was launching a “new literary feature: a weekly installment of serialized fiction written by local authors.” Chuck Kinder would be the lead off author and the serialized work would be four “lost episodes” from Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, four previously unpublished chapters. And all four were enclosed.
How cool is that?
Below are the chapter synopses in order of publication:
- Jim’s (Stark and Crumley) drunken mid-western pursuit of the ghost of Richard Hugo.
- Shorty and the bag of lucky hair
- A day at the beach and a bottle of warm, white wine precede Jim’s feeble attempt to resuscitate a dead, tattooed swimmer since, once again, another of Ralph’s claims, this time about having once been a big-shot lifeguard, proves false.
- An alternate ending that finds the “Fearless Foursome” attending a hilltop shindig at Casa Coyote, the home of writer Thomas Sanchez. Jim’s decision to give Sanchez a shellacking over some “real or imagined” slight sends the remaining foursome “vamoosing into the night”. But Sanchez takes the wind out of Jim’s sails when he praises Jim’s novel, even asking Jim to autograph it, in front of his other guests. Unable to locate Ralph and Alice Ann, Jim and Lindsey decide to vamoose themselves, navigating their car down the winding canyon road, only to nearly run into Ralph and A.A. as the latter come crashing out of the woods right into their headlights. This little event makes it clear to Jim that the foursome’s life paths are now and forever entwined.
So in conclusion, while Honeymooners is certainly complete without them, I surely did enjoy a few more romps with Jim, Ralph, Lindsey and Alice Ann.