Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fevered Spring

Keith Raffel here.

No advice today. No startling insights. I haven’t had time to come up with either.

A week ago Sunday was the baccalaureate service for this year's graduating seniors from Palo Alto High School including my #2. (See photo of the happy grad and her proud parents at left.) Wednesday was the actual ceremony. Reading the names of the 400+ grads took well over an hour. Once that last name was read, #2 and her (now) fellow alumni climbed on to buses that took them to the USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule, for Grad Night. Good ol’ Dad picked her and two friends up at 3AM. After a few hours of shut-eye , I rolled out of bed for #4’s promotion ceremony from elementary school which was marked by the exuberance you'd expect from 5th graders. That evening we went to #3's promotion from middle school. Since she only had sixteen classmates, the service was far more intimate than her big sister’s.

No, graduation festivities weren’t over. Nephew #2 picked up a master’s at the Jr. university (full name: Leland Stanford Junior University) across the street from Palo Alto High on Sunday. His parents wanted to throw him a party and our house became the designated site. We had a motley collection of family, music and engineering students, my brother’s friends from high school, neurosurgeons, and even a gubernatorial candidate over here celebrating his graduation. Next year for the first time in almost a decade we won’t be in loco parentis for a temporarily orphaned-by-distance Stanford student.

Saturday night my wife and I went to friend Dan’s 50th birthday party. In an act that should warm the heart of any author or bibliophile, the only gift we were allowed to bring was a favorite book. I took the egocentric route and gave him a bound manuscript of what my agent is out there trying to sell right now. At least I could be sure it wouldn’t be a duplicate.

Earlier that day I did a sign-and-greet at Borders in Palo Alto. The store was filled with the proud parents of Stanford grads and a fair number of them will be reading Dot Dead or Smasher on their plane rides home. Sold over 50 of them.

While life swirled around me, I’ve written a couple of articles, too. Yesterday a story and interview I did with bestselling thriller writer Linda Fairstein was posted here. My agent was smitten by her. See if you are.

Also this morning, Bookreporter.com is running the Father’s Day reminiscence I wrote about books and my father. Here's how it starts:

"When I was twenty, I was in college, protesting, studying, and hanging out. When my father was twenty, he was in France a mile behind the front lines using a surveyor’s transit to help pinpoint the location of German artillery."

Yes, that's a photo of Dad taken during the War. You can read the rest of the posting here. Please let me know what you think.

Amidst the tumult, I did try to get some work done. My current work-in-progress is a historical thriller that opens in the Palo Alto of 1940. What I like best about writing this one is being able to leave this world beset with oil spills, rogue regimes developing nuclear weapons, political campaigns fueled by campaign contributions rather than thoughtful debate, and on and on. Much easier to hide out in an earlier time when the lines between right/wrong and good/evil were bright and distinct.

Cheers. The summer solstice is next Monday. Goodbye spring and welcome summer!


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Congratulations, Keith, on all the graduations! I remember meeting #2 in late January. She was a pure delight. And I LOVED the article about your father. Beautiful.

(Pssst, don't tell anyone, but I prefer these personal posts to those about writing. I enjoy seeing glimpses into the lives of my friends and colleagues.)

Darrell James said...

Whew! Keith, I'm exhausted, following your exploits. How do you do it and still turn out all that work?

I agree with, Sue Ann, it was fun seeing a glimpse into your life. Thanks and "Congratulations #2".

G.M. Malliet said...

Lovely, lovely, heartwarming post. Congratulations on many fronts, Keith. Also, I don't think it at all egocentric to give away a bound copy of your not-yet-book. That will be worth big money some day.

Keith Raffel said...

Sue Ann, #2 is indeed a delight, but a pure delight? Not sure about that. Darrell, I'm exhausted, too. Gin, if that manuscript is going to be worth a lot of money, I hope it is while I'm still alive. I'm impatient.

Alice Loweecey said...


Sheila Deeth said...

Congratulations. It is rather that time of year isn't it? Our oldest and youngest are now both graduated, one from medical school, the other from college, and both on the same day--same time even--in different states!