I recently took a writing workshop at the Ink Spot called “How to be Funny Even if You’re Not” led by John Vorhaus, a man who is pretty funny which I think helps if you want to show somebody how to be funny.
And he’s been funny a long time, working in the television industry both here and abroad. He once recruited and trained writers for Bulgaria’s adaptation of Married… with Children which to me, for some reason, is funny in and of itself – as I try to picture a family as dysfunctional as the Bundys speaking and doing pratfalls with a Slavic flavor.
John’s got a book out that I haven’t bought yet but I’m about to amazon it. He’s actually got several books out but this one, “Lucy in the Sky,” intrigues me, particularly, since I was in an evolutionary state of being when Sir Paul and John gave us Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Reading a few words John sent me about his book, I picture myself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls me, I answer quite slowly, a girl with kaleidoscope eyes and I can visualize John’s coming-of-age tale set in Milwaukee, in 1969, when I was thirty-one getting out of a marriage that was way over and done, so glad that I hadn’t murdered that woman whom I once thought of as The One.
Lucy in the Sky touches on such weighty issues as the meaning of life, the purpose of art and the existence of God and back in those years those were the kinds of of questions that were on my mind as I tried to move on with my life in a new world – both mine and the real world. I had rights I hadn’t enjoyed before. Writing was my art. And my definitions of God were changing as rapidly as green, yellow, and red lights at a street corner in upper Manhattan – lights no one seems to pay any attention to just like I paid no attention to this prepositional faux pas.
I can’t wait to see what answers John V engineers for us in his promise of a “fun and compelling trip” via Gene Steen (and why in the hell is my mind, in this moment, playing with notions like “It’s not easy being green”), an earnest, intelligent, truth-seeking teen who is stuck in the cultural wasteland of his suburban home.
Gene wants to be a hippie in the worst way (and there’s a lot of ways to be a hippie), but hippies are scarce on the ground in the forlorn Midwest of Gene’s 15th year. Then, propitiously (look it up when you give up pretending you know what the word means – okay speak for myself) on the Summer Solstice, his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his lively, lovely, long-lost cousin Lucy.
Lucy is hip beyond Gene’s wildest dreams and immediately takes him under her wing. Lucy teaches Gene that being a hippie isn’t about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take. Yet for all her airy insights into religion, philosophy and “the isness of it all,” Lucy harbors dark secrets (I feel a story coming on) – secrets that will soon put her on the run, with Gene by her side.
Lucy in the Sky resonates of such classics as Summer of ’42 (I pant just thinking of this flick) and Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (this was the Bible of a friend of mine who just passed away) and invites the reader into a richly detailed vision of the 60’s (my favorite decade in life), as realized by Vorhaus’s sure-handed prose and sense of place and time. With frank talk about sex and drugs, Vorhaus pulls no punches about the realities of the era (they were all over the place weren’t they?), yet delivers an uplifting message about personal power and the path to enlightenment. A rewarding read for young seekers and old geezers alike.
This old geezer just “Bought Lucy in the Sky with 1-click.” Isn’t amazon slick?
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