[Masthead] Fair ~ 47°F  
High: 67°F ~ Low: 53°F
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Basic Biittner: Great fiction, and that's a fact!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

(Photo)
I don't read a lot of fiction, sticking mostly to biographies and other sports or entertainment titles. When I do read fiction, however, I have tended to go "whole hog," finding an author whose work I like, and proceeding to read several books by that author. The first time I did this was an adolescent - actually, as a pre-teen (do they still use that term?), when I became aware of, and devoured, the "Chip Hilton" books by Clair Bee. Chip and his pals- Soapy, Biggie,and Speed - were high school students when the first books were written, then all went to college together. I think the college had an imaginative name like State University or the like.

Anyway, Chip was the All-American boy - blonde hair, blue eyes, and an All-Stater in every sport. His pals all played every sport, too, and amazingly, they all played every sport in college, too (this is fiction, remember). The author of the books, Clair Bee, was a Hall-of-Fame basketball coach at a New York college, but I don't remember whether it was NYU, CCNY, or somewhere else. It didn't matter to me. To me, he was just "Clair Bee, author of the Chip Hilton books."

As I progressed (?) into adolescence, my attention turned to other things (in addition to sports), and I owned and read the complete collection of Ian Fleming's James Bond books, starting with the first one, Casino Royale.

In fairly recent years, I have had a brief Robert Ludlum phase and a brief Steven King phase, but, during my early adult years, my author of choice was Kurt Vonnegut.

I think I loved Vonnegut's work because it was a little "out there," just like me. The first Vonnegut book I read was "Breakfast of Champions," because that was a best seller at the time. With my appetite whetted by that experience, I then read "Slaughterhouse Five," probably Vonnegut's best-known and most critically acclaimed work. Then, as has been my custom, I purchased and read his other books. "Player Piano," "Cat's Cradle," "Mother Night," and "Sirens of Titan" are the only titles I can recall. I would love to tell you more about Vonnegut's work, but, to tell you the truth, though I loved the books at the time, I can't remember much about them. And, like my Chip Hilton and James Bond books, they seem to have vanished.

I bring all this up because Vonnegut, who hadn't written a book since 1988, died last week, and for the first time in years I thought about him, and how much his writing meant to me at one time.

Since the Cherokee Public Library is right across the street from where I work, I just might have to go over there and revisit Mr. Vonnegut's works.

Hmm - I wonder if they have any Chip Hilton books?

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner