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Ted Clifton's   Updater   2019

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Greatest Books of All Time--Maybe?
 
 
Leo Tolstoy
 
I seem to be attracted to lists.  Lists of all kinds but in particular lists of books.  Best American Authors, best sci-fi, best whatever.  Ran across a list of best books of all time.  A certain arrogance in the list title that drew me to the article.  It was compiled by some people I have never heard of; but still intriguing.

Top 5
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Out of the top 10, I had read two; The Great Gatsby and number seven The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Leo Tolstoy has been heralded as the greatest novelist of all time.  That seems odd to me, but I can’t say why.  Could be the way he looked—okay, I know that is not kind.  But in most photos he looks slightly crazy.  I'm sure he wasn't but based on his photos he could have been a raving lunatic. 

Lists are one thing but what about the all important reader reviews?  Quick research shows two of the greatest novels ever written have on average a four-star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.  Reader reviewers on those sites are some tough critics.  The Great Gatsby has a higher rating than War and Peace on Amazon—maybe because it is so much shorter. 

Even The Great Gatsby gets plenty of one-star reviews.

“So having now read 'The Great Gatsby,' I don't know how it got to be a classic.

Bad writing, long run on pompous sentences, totally boring characters and very little plot don't add up to a classic in my opinion.

Mostly it's plot, what little there is, involves some rich full of themselves people trying to score some booze and looking for a party during prohibition.”

I think that critic has reviewed some of my books.  I’m sure Fitzgerald would agree the reader review system on Amazon is an invitation to some odd ball opinions.  Now Tolstoy would not understand the whole idea of lesser beings making comments on his great work; but he lived in a different world in a different time.

A word that showed up in a word-of-the-day email was ipso facto.  Meaning “by the fact itself.”  I think some of these "best of " lists are just a rehash of other lists.  Leo Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest novelists of all time “ipso facto,” his books should be on the greatest books of all-time list.

Leo Tolstoy’s books were massive.  War and Peace is 1,024 pages long; The Great Gatsby is 180 pages.  Can they even be compared?  How does a 180-page book and a 1,024-page tome end up on the same list?  In Tolstoy’s day the massive undertaking of just writing (in long hand?) would be an effort that would be hard to imagine today—this huge book would make Fitzgerald’s effort seem like an insignificant toss-off project.  But here they are on the same list of the Greatest Books ever.

I’ve listed some of my favorite books before.  This would not be my opinion on greatest books, but definitely the books I liked best.  I think that’s an important distinction.
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan
  • Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The DeVinci Code by Dan Brown
After that it would be mostly authors I like not necessarily any individual book.  Lots of mystery authors have provided me with many hours of enjoyment—but they should not be confused with Tolstoy.  And probably wouldn’t want to be.

What makes a great or classic book?  In a Huffington Post piece, C. Christopher Smith defines a classic as "any book that is not a new book, one that merits re-reading, 5, 10, even 100 years or more after its publication."  Well that could mean some of my old DuckTales comic books might be “great,” since I sure would enjoy reading them again. 

When I think about great books I think of works that had impact, that left a deep impression on the reader.  That is easy to see in sweeping generational tales that cover wars, amazing hardships and desperate times; but would that be true of the Hobbit?  I think so. 
 
 


FEATURED Artist: Georgia O'Keeffe
 
 
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, opened to the public in July 1997, eleven years after the death of our namesake artist. A visit to the O’Keeffe Museum offers insight not only into the artist’s paintings, but also her creative process and the light and landscape that inspired her. In addition to the main Museum campus in Santa Fe, the O’Keeffe Museum maintains O’Keeffe’s two homes and studios in northern New Mexico, a research center and library, and a variety of collections relating to O’Keeffe and modern art.
 
One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was devoted to creating imagery that expressed what she called “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.” O’Keeffe’s images—instantly recognizable as her own —include abstractions, large-scale depictions of flowers, leaves, rocks, shells, bones and other natural forms, New York cityscapes and paintings of the unusual shapes and colors of architectural and landscape forms of northern New Mexico.
 


 


Hatch, New Mexico
 
The Village of Hatch, New Mexico is located in northern Dona Ana County, in New Mexico just 37 miles northwest of Las Cruces. The population within the village limits is 1,648 and the elevation of Hatch is 4,058 feet.  Hatch is most known for being the CHILE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD and holds its annual Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend at the Village of Hatch Airport a few miles southwest on Highway 26.
 

Hatch plays a small part in several of my books.  In Fiction No More (the e-book is free today11/16/19 on Amazon) its the late night stop for Stella Stratton before she meets her somewhat unhinged father.  I have fond memories of Hatch from when we lived in Las Cruces.  The Chile Festival was always a reason to visit Hatch, but the wonderful aroma of roasting Chiles was the main attraction.  The taste of Chile is addictive but the aroma of roasting Chiles is unforgettable.
 
 
In case you were wondering, you can spell Chile with the e or with an i.  Chili.  I often use Chili, but I know that usually in New Mexico it is Chile.  Once had a reviewer of one of my books say that obviously I had never been to New Mexico because of my spelling of Chili.  Strange thing to worry about.  And, of course, for many years I lived in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.  No matter how you spell it they taste the same.
Ted Clifton (short) bio
Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series.  Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops.  His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times.  The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives.  Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice.  Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Book Updates
 
Durango Two Step.  This is my current project.  No completion date yet--but starting to look like 2020. 
 
Doctor Hightower.  On hold.  For a while I was writing on this and DTS--that didn't work; so Hightower will happen after DTS is finished.

Muckraker Series.  New covers soon.  The revised books in this series with the new covers will be released soon.  The books were re-edited to (hopefully) improve the reader experience.  If you haven't before, might want to check them out in a few weeks.  I believe the Tommy Jacks character in all three books is the best character I have created.  Young, idealist, caught in the middle of a changing world.
 



 
Odds and Ends
(This post is reprinted from Ted Clifton's PurpleSage Books blog) Click to sign up to receive the blog every week.
 
Trick or Treat or Worse
I write mystery books.  Also, on occasion, I write short-stories.  For no particular reason these often are about my childhood in Oklahoma in the 1950s.  You probably grew up in a different time and place, but I hope you find these little odes to the past interesting, or funny, or maybe even a little sad.

This is a true short, short story about Halloween.

In small town America in the 1950s Halloween night found every kid within miles walking in the neighborhood seeking those wonderful treats.  There were no trailing parents or watchful cars standing by to rescue little Johnny, because no one perceived a need for such caution.  It was a time when people had a sense of belonging that created a, no doubt, false sense of security.

On one memorable Halloween I had spent hours out with my group of buddies canvasing our immediate neighborhood and several blocks over in both directions.  At many of the houses the adults knew some of us and greeted us warmly.  There were kids everywhere going door to door.  Now, to be fair, there were a couple of houses we stayed away from.  One was occupied by an incredibly old man who glared at kids if they got close to his domain.  The kid rumor was that he was an escaped convict hiding in our neighborhood.  The legend was that he had been convicted of murdering his own children.  The chance of that tale being true was exactly zero; but every kid knew to stay clear of his un-kept house.

On this one night I had stayed out longer than usual, because I was also collecting Halloween goodies for my friend Bill who was sick.  He begged me to take his bag and get double treats—it was a pitiful scene with this huge kid begging me to get him candy while he coughed all over me; condemning me to catching some dreaded disease. 

My last lap was one street over from mine.  It was the rich people’s street in the neighborhood.  I had waited until the final push of the night to make the biggest haul.  Some of the houses had turned out their lights, but most had not.  There was an occasional grumble about me collecting two bags but most were still pleasant and generous with the goodies.

At the end of the rich people’s block I was loaded down.  It was about the maximum I could carry and I felt both joy and a self-important sense of accomplishment.  I couldn’t wait to get to Bill’s house and give him his bulging bag.  Bill was in kid’s terms, the fat kid.  He ate everything and in huge quantities.  He was going to be delirious.

It was late, even for Halloween, and I was now alone on my last leg.  First stop would be Bill’s, and then finally home where I could explore my huge bag of sugary joy.

I heard the car before I saw it.  It had stopped hard just behind me.  When I turned I saw a car full of teenagers.  Now if you’re a pre-teen kid in safe, small town American there was one great fear in your world.  Teenage boys.  Often you knew them; maybe even friends of your older brother.  But you had seen their group behavior before.  Bullying, head rubbing, taunting; they were the most feared menace in your protected world.

It was the apocalypse; four teenagers on Halloween night charging a ten-year-old kid with two huge bags of candy.  In a flash I was on the ground with pain in my hand and elbow without any candy.  The old Ford hauled ass down the street.  I thought I could hear them laughing.

I stayed still for a while.  Then without warning I started to cry.  Curled up in a ball on a very dark Halloween night in the middle of a stranger’s yard, all alone, I bawled.  Just like a baby.  All of that work, hours and hours of trick or treating; gone in a matter of seconds.  Soon I stopped crying and almost immediately became angry.  More angry than I ever remember being before.  I stood in the middle of the night and shouted “Shit,” as loud as my little body could muster.  I knew that was wrong, but I had had it with being bullied and stomped on by those stupid teenage hoodlums.

I made it to Bill's and gave him the bad news.  He was obviously very sad.  He suggested I still had time to go back and get some goodies.  I just looked at him like his head had just exploded.  I said good-night and went home.

Once home I told my parents the story.  My dad was furious.  He debated about calling the cops or getting in his old car and finding the creeps.  My mother soothed him and told him it was bad but it would be best just to forget it.  He mumbled something and went outside to smoke his foul smelling cigar.

My mother consoled me, telling me those boys did not mean to hurt me, they were just being teenage boys.  That seemed like a lame excuse to me.  She hugged me and I cried again.  She tucked me in and read one of my favorite books.  I dreamed of the day when I would be a teenage boy and how I would treat everyone so nice and wouldn’t tease or torment little ten-year old kids.

From that time on I dreaded Halloween.  When I became a teenager, I definitely had my typical teenage boy moments, but I never tormented little kids and usually stayed home on Halloween.
 
Thanks everyone for being a reader!
 
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