Sunday, March 4, 2018

My Call to Chinese History

 "Within these halls, the relics told their tales and slipped their secrets."

So I wrote in The Jade Owl, a short snippet of an undulating paragraph about the tales historic artifacts tell. And back in 1971, I first heard the cuckoo sing history's sweet song from the podium. First from the leader of the Hungarian Revolution, Bela Kiroly, and then from Mary Giles, a consummate lecturer on Ancient history, a woman who brought the old Roman threadbare jargon to life. Sumerians glowed; and I remember doing a paper on Hathor's mirror, which sat on a velvet drape at the Brooklyn Museum. Within these halls, the relics told their tales and let slip their secrets. Yessum. It was history for me.

And then there was Professor Hyman Kublin, who specialized in Japanese history. Ah! Japan.. The land of The Mikado (not really), but I was hooked forever . . . well not forever. Until Prof Kublin introduced me to a larger well—CHINA. Her blossoming fathomless sea of rich history, relics, lore, customs and immovable presence. I couldn't get enough of her . . . never have . . . never will.

Destiny knocked, and I cared little for the practicality of making a living as a Sinologist. I was still with a company that kept me fed (and would so 'til this day). I had scant notion of the job market or the glut of Sinophiles (unemployed ones). Still, China dominated all, including my writing. Suddenly hundreds of story possibilities came my way. So what did I do? I took a western-style tale and bent it a la Chinese. But it was an important tale. It was called Vagrants Hollow . It was my first mature novel. It concerned a Sung dynasty student and bureaucrat; and the death of his teacher - a murder mystery in 12th Century China. Why not? It had action, obsession and a twist ending (so twisty, it defied logic). Most important, it gave birth to my oldest fictional companion, Li K'ai-men (the scholar-official), whose story I tell. Little did I know then that Li and his ilk (his descendant Little Cricket figures heavily in later work), would burst through several works for the next forty years.

I also scrawled a few Chinese themed short stories, one of whichLaughing Dog reflected my knoledge as a Sinologist. It was sort of the Papago Wedding for the Chinese set. It also figured in the scheme of my writing, the basis for my play (1999) Fishing With Birds and the first sections of my novel (2002) Nan-ya, which has since become the Southern Swallow series (The Academician).

Yes, these were fecund times. I also was writing papers, the real work of the historian. I committed to it. I would walk in the wake of Marco Polo. I would do it, because . . . because the relics told their tales and slipped their secrets. I would tell the world. Finally, a reason for a writing life. And then, after 5 Jade Owl novels and 4 (soon to be 5) Southern Swallow works, Master Wu's Bride was born. Yes, a reason for living . . . to provide a voice to a woman from the past to today's women in this age of #MeToo.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Author Urges Resistance

Well, at 70 I won't see the final crash and burn. But I am resolved to be a voice, a pen, a quill, and this will be my last Hurrah, since I can't repeat my trips in the 60's for Civil Rights, or serving my country in the military again like I did in the late 60's, or march against Nixon and protest at college in the 70's, or go into he field to aid the dying during the AIDS crisis, or march on Washington as I did in the 90's as a Gay activist. The 21st Century gives me only my voice and this wonderful social media extension.
I lived in the business world for how many years? I've been in it and still in it after 52 years. Applying business acumen to government by a bunch of billionaire vultures who probably have not even read the Constitution is not my idea of the vision of the Founding Fathers. Their vision was a WHITE only (even Native Americans were specifically proscribed in the Declaration of Independence) democracy where their special interests were served. We have grown from that narrow definition in the context of a liberally interpreted document. Remember - we are the great experiment, and perhaps the experiment has failed, especially when we managed to let a narcissistic sociopath slip into the executive position.
My dedication to diversity and an America as a beacon of hope for the entire world may be naive and fraught with idealism, but living here is not all beans and potatoes. It's breathing in the many cultures that have changed us. We have had a governmental system which has worked despite of its Byzantine attributes. Tearing it down will not restore us to the vision of the founding fathers, because that vision was myopic. It's the generations between that have made America great.
We evolve. We do not implode.
Thus, with the gifts I have - a voice, a pen, publication, social media - I will continue to inspire, piss-off and otherwise egg on those who can still march, shout, bray and shore up what we have rather than to replace it with a beehive of fascist uniformity. That is what history has taught me - European, Chinese and American History. And here I thought my legacy would be living out my days in quiet reticence. Nope.
"Do not go gentle into that good night."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Coming Out - Reversing the Lie

For National Coming Out Day and dedicated to PFLAG - Here's my little award winner.

No Irish Need Apply
a Novella by Edward C. Patterson 

“ This book is multi-faceted in that it describes in great detail the impact this love story has on all of the characters in the story. ” 
“ This is a great book if you want to get a perspective on what it would be like to be so different in high school; you're more than alone but estranged. ” 
“ In his novel No Irish Need Apply, Mr. Patterson breathes life into the characters and the dilemmas they face. ” 

No Irish Need Apply on the Kindle
also on the Nook, Sony, Kobo, Dieselbooks and the Apple iPad

available in Paperback on Amazon
and at Barnes & Noble

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fishing the Ocean Dry

"Some days the fish bite and the fisherman is happy. Some days they laugh at him, and he sits on the shore and pouts. But no matter how many fish he catches, there is always more laughing from beneath the waves. So he sighs and whistles and baits the hook again, casting with his best lure. Flounders dream — dreams flounder."
- Edward C. Patterson (me) from Extempore Thoughts of the Day included in - A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Imagination Runs Wild

When I was in the Army, I was stationed in Grafenwöhr, Germany and there was this woods - as spooky as you can imagine just outside the town - Hansel and Gretl spooky. When I would walk through it, my imagination would run wild with every Grimm story that my active mind could conger. So it should come as no surprise I would encapsulate those spooky mind roves with authobiographical material into a novel - and with 9 5-star reviews, and the Halloween holiday approaching, let me get your mind juices flowing too.

The Road to Grafenwöhr
from the author of Surviving an American Gulag, No Irish Need Apply, Look Away Silence and The Jade Owl Legacy series.

PFC Quincy Summerson begins his military adventure in 1968 in Bavaria realizing that his presence stirs the paradigm - the thin line between twilight and night. His hyperactive imagination gets the better of him, and soon the world enlists him for a predestined purpose - to travel on the road to Grafenwoehr, where the wood is alive with myth and folk lore.

Set in a tense Cold War atmosphere during both the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Vietnam call to arms, The Road to Grafenwoehr is one man's emotional journey to square nature's justice with humankind's disregard for it. It’s a summons for a least likely and reluctant champion. But those called to service rarely choose where they serve. They just answer it, ripening to their purpose. For Quincy Summerson, a hero’s life is not his choice, but can he ignore the call? Can he stay off the road once the twilight snares him?

The author writes: "The Road of Grafenwöhr owes its existence principally to my own good fortune to be stationed in Germany and that bustling Bavarian town between 1967-68. Although the work is far from autobiographical, most of the events of a historic and pictorial nature (and even some used for the fantasy) are recounted from my direct experiences. Such is the web we weave.

During the last days of authoring this work, my father passed away. Therefore, this work is dedicated to his memory and also to the memory of all the brave heroes who — from Bastogne to Peleliu — have made our world possible through their sacrifice."

The plot is very tight and the storyline moves. Todd A. Fonseca  "Road" is a fascinating mix of reality and fantasy woven together with writing that can turn lyrical or gritty with the twist of a phrase. Dana Taylor  The added specter of Vietnam during the era of this book gave it another layer. Doug DePew  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Watching the Sky through the Branches

If you don't manage change, change will manage you.

When I thought about this (and how many times in my life I had to face change's awful and graceful moments) I came to the conclusion, I've become an expert on the subject of change. Through trial and error and tribulation, I've managed to wash up and wash out with life's most harrowing and delightful moments. In this I'm not unlike you or you or you and even . . . you. Still, if there's any subject, with supporting details from life's experiences, that bears sharing among the human species, it is how to manage change.

Now I can hear the scoffers ask whether it's loose change or pocket change, but despite the frivolity lurking in mockery's halls, an understanding of the topic is the key for shooting this rapid we call existence. In fact, and this is my own personal observation (ye ol' IMHO), self-worth is defined in terms of how we manage change in our lives. If we bob around the sphere like a weather vane, blown by the wind, we're bound to be bullied by circumstance. However, if we make the same gyration like compasses with an eye on magnetic north, we can hold our ground and spit in the bully's eye.

The first thing to know about change is that it is . . . changeable — nothing truly steady or eternal. So to ride the bucking bronco of relocation, employment shifts, retirement, financial earthquakes, marriage, birth, death, spilled coffee and the passing panoramas of vacations come and gone (not to mention the heartbreak of psoriasis) we must find a place to ponder — to make sense of the senseless. You must find a place within yourself — within your imagination — a place that doesn't change. A fixed place. Retreating there, you can savor change like dishes at an Roman banquet, selecting and rejecting that which fits self cultivation. For me that place isn't a beer garden, but a quiet one — a place under a wisteria tree, where I can look up and see the sky through branches. Each branch is filled with blossoms — the sum of my life experience, and hung so I may consider their fragrance in the light of new challenges and opportunities. It's a place to take resolve.

So from under the wisteria tree, I emerge to share my views on change management and will try my hand at it over the breadth of this blog. I'll dispense good advice and bad advice and sometimes no advice. However, like all things known and shared, I have a legacy — a collection of nuggets stored beneath my sanctuary — a bastion monument warding off change's finality.  My blog is new, but the subject is old, reflecting a myriad of possibilities afforded by change — the bully, if we let it push us around.