April 22, 2011

A Trip To Las Vegas

One of the first books I built and wrote in fifth grade was a memoir.  What ten year old has enough life to provide a memoir?  Certainly not I, but I had to write something and hadn't yet hit my stride as an author of fiction.  Unfortunately, I hadn't hit my stride with memoir either, so the result is rather... fifth-graderish, I'm afraid.

The cover is lively enough and shows the author's love for the art form known as "scattered stencil in marker." In grade school, I loved all sorts of stencils. I was known to draw big flowcharts just for the sake of using the stencil to draw the little boxes and diamonds and arrows.

All the books show their 33 years. But now you're thinking, "I get the dollar signs. It's Vegas. But what the hell is that brown spot? Did the cat throw up on the book?" It's a cesta.

Cleverly, I hid the fact that this is BOOK ONE in a series.  You have to look inside to find that out, and by this point I've got you 90% hooked.

Because every book needs a Table of Contents, and also at this point I looked ahead and saw just how many freaking blank pages I'd have to fill with something.  Note the use of multiple fonts, either to add spice or to account for my lack of discipline and patience.

Now I'll just let you enjoy the story, and I'll revisit you during the chapter break.  Enjoy!

I get tears in my eyes when I see how, even at such a young age, my writing talent was evident. Clearly I understood the concept behind NaNoWriMo 25 years before Chris Baty ever came up with the idea of going for word count, word count, word count.  A ticket in my name, a ticket in my brother's name, and a ticket in Brian's father's name.  Genius: using 18 words where one would otherwise suffice.

By the way, 1977 had two Tuesday the 27ths.  I believe this one was in December.

Allow me to break in here and point out that my education on gambling was perhaps more advanced than most nine year olds.  Now, also, you understand the jai-alai cesta on the cover.

How many nine year olds know about point spreads?  See what I mean?

Although I knew enough to write "Kelloggs brand cereal," I left out the trademark symbol.

You may think this book ends somewhat abruptly, mid-sentence.  No! We actually played racquetball twice most days when we went to Las Vegas.  Plus, there's a sequel, and clearly I knew enough to end with a cliffhanger.

It is both hilarious and distressing to see what I chose to write about in my book about this trip.  Thirty-five years later, I wish I'd picked other details. The trailer park my mom and stepfather lived in, behind the Frontier Hotel. It's been paved over and is now the back parking lot of the Fashion Show Mall. Instead of which teams won which games, maybe something about MGM's enormous fronton and the unique game of jai-alai, which I came to adore as one of my favorite things in Las Vegas. The Hilton, where my mom worked in the accounting department and where we swam in the pool.  They had thin, smallish pool towels with green stripes down the middle. The breakfast joint we went to, Sambo's, which was not the model of diversity. Desert hikes... all kinds of things.  But cereals?  Which teams won which games?  Sigh.

But... maybe some of that's detailed in BOOK TWO. Stay tuned.

The Author


lahosken said...

"We can't stop here. This is Jai Alai country."

Travis Erwin said...

You my friend are the Pete Rose of writers.

PJD said...

Larry: If only I'd seen that movie.

Travis: As in, "Pete rose and looked at himself in the mirror..."

jjdebenedictis said...

This is hilarious. I just got back from Las Vegas last night.

Your account of a breakfast of simple cereal makes me jealous. My choices were "no breakfast" or "cheese & bacon omelettes bigger than your head".

Sylvia said...

This is wonderful!

fairyhedgehog said...

I don't have anything that I wrote at that age and I don't know whether to be happy or sad about it!

I loved reading this.

PJD said...

Jen, I hope your Vegas trip was fun. Don't trust those omelets.

Thanks, Sylvia!

Hedgie, I am so glad I kept these through the years. They are pretty special to me, moreso than any other schoolwork or stories I might have written. Maybe because they weren't assignments; we had the opportunity to get gold star stickers by reading a Newberry Medal winning book or writing a book of our own. I probably wrote more books than I read, a trend which continues (well, not really) to this day.