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– Intimacy –

 

In this melancholy novel about a man on the brink of suicide, Stanley Crawford allows readers to question what it really means to be close to a person. Intimacy follows an unnamed narrator planning his own death. His preparations become a trigger and occasion for him to revisit key moments in his life and his material possessions, which are the solid artifacts from his life’s journey.

 

As sparrows in flight might form a single arrow, the life of the narrator comes into focus as a collage of fleeting events and images. Readers gain insights into tiny moments that slowly build into a picture of a man who seems to have very little, aside from material possessions, to lose.

 

The narrative pulls the reader along a trail of digressions—about running shoes, about the symbolism of rings—that lead down a proverbial rabbit hole until we realize the narrator’s intentions. Despite our lack of concrete knowledge about the narrator’s life, he allows us to share his thought processes: how every thought leads to the next, how memories seep upward when he picks up a particular T-shirt, or when he glimpses his car keys. And alongside our growing understanding of the narrator comes a recognition of our own thought processes: how we, like him, relate to our bodies; how we, too, cannot break away from the constant motion of our thoughts.

 

Intimacy is a brief, intense novel charged with the heightened sense of closeness that comes from watching a man’s last hours. It illuminates how brief snapshots of memory can trace the outline of an entire life.

– Seed –

 

Seed is the story of Bill Starr's Final days. Childless but with a lifetime's worth of possessions and a nearly infinite web of extended family, Bill endeavors to empty his house completely before he dies by summoning distant relatives to claim their inheritance. Many of his letters go unanswered, but those who do appear show up only to find that their reward is often much less valuable than they might expect.

 

What they get instead are Bill's memories, made vivid by each item from the past, memories that are more exotic and curious than the lives currently lived by his younger relatives.

 

Accompanied by his housekeeper, Ramona, and his handyman, Jonathan, Bill is a somewhat cantankerous, wildly intelligent, and often forgetful man who recalls and speaks to his passed wife, often thinking that she's not dead. His unwillingness to recognize what has happened to her and to give away his only possession of any value, a 1937 Pierce-Arrow automobile that they bought together, becomes the measure of his grief and his love in this profoundly funny novel that faces death and love sincerely.

The Canyon

 

Scotty’s family owns a lodge near their silver mine in the Colorado Rockies. Summers at the lodge are idyllic for Scotty and his cousin Mickey. The grown-ups are dealing with the complications of business and adult dysfunction, but the boys are more interested in the complications of puberty, especially when Rosalind, the teen-age daughter of family friends, is on hand. To read this quiet, rich evocation of adolescent watchfulness is to experience what it is like to be fourteen years old, waiting for something to happen, aware of everything but oblivious to as much of it as possible. Readers will be reminded of such modern masters as William Maxwell and John Updike.

 

Petroleum Man

 

Petroleum Man is a novel of Swiftean malice and biting humor that challenges the dogmas of both sides of the current sociopolitical divide-blue states and red states, haves and have-nots, trickle-down conservatives and bleeding-heart liberals. Bewildered by the odious "liberal democrat" tendencies of his son-in-law Chip, Leon Tuggs -self-made arch-capitalist billionaire, inventor of the ubiquitous and environmentally hazardous Thingie®, and author of the influential General Theory of Industrial Sex-decides to rescue his grandchildren from a life of guilt, indecision, and existential anxiety, by educating them in the way the world actually works and telling them the things no teacher or parent in our politically-correct and morally-relative world could ever venture to say. These life lessons he gives to his grandchildren are accompanied by gifts-cast-iron replicas of the cars that he has owned during his his own life, a life in cars.

 

From the 1939 Ford Fordor Sedan, in which the idea for Tuggs's first invention was conceived, to the 1992 Lincoln Town Car Stretch Limousine, the entrée to a hysterically charged confrontation between Tuggs and his family, Petroleum Man takes delight in exposing the vanity and frailty of some of the most popularly held prejudices of our times.

The River in Winter

 

"The River in Winter presents Crawford's musings and observations in a series of concise essays.... Topics range from the poetic to the political but, with the easy grace of a skilled writer, Crawford makes the hard work of writing look effortless. He manages to take the most complex topics--water rights, for example, or the growth of global agriculture--and present them understandably and with relevance to the reader. Subjects that could seem trivial at first glance, such as ornamental gourds, geese, or old apple crates, take on a patina of poetry in Crawford's skillful hands. His loving attention to detail comes from careful observation."

 

- Anne Hillerman, The Albuquerque Journal

 

 

 

A Garlic Testament

 

"For Stanley Crawford, the love of garlic comes from both scientific study and three decades of labor in the field to produce the exquisite bulbs, knowing full well that 'if you grow good garlic people will love you for it.' Crawford deserves similar affection for A Garlic Testament, a lyrical memoir of his work as a farmer in northern New Mexico, one that combines autobiography, gardening hints, and a quiet philosophy of life."

 

–Gregory McNamee

 

"[Stanley] Crawford's memoir of working and living with his wife on their small farm in northern New Mexico is a pleasant mixture of farming, nature watching, and philosophy. Through the growing season that begins with fall planting, the Crawfords tend, harvest, and then sell their garlic and other produce the following summer at the Santa Fe farmers' market."

 

–Library Journal

 

Mayordomo

 

Winner of the 1988 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction

 

Irrigation ditches are the lifeline of agriculture and daily life in rural New Mexico. This award-winning account of the author's experience as a mayordomo, or ditch boss, is the first record of the life of an acequia by a community participant.

 

"Mayordomo is thoroughly absorbing. Not only does it make its humble subject fascinating, but it also has a larger vision-of the rhythms of earth, water and weather, of the clash of two vastly different cultures and of a remarkable but vanishing way of life, one of the oldest in the West."

 

 -San Francisco Chronicle

 

Some Instructions

 

From "Putting Things Away" to "The Marriage Almanac" (not to mention the pedantic "Index," in itself a comic wonder), Stanley Crawford gives the married, the unmarried, and the formerly married a classic satire on all the sanctimonious marriage manuals ever produced. Starting with the complete title, Some Instructions to My Wife Concerning the Upkeep of the House and Marriage, and to My Son and Daughter Concerning the Conduct of Their Childhood, a boorish narrator sets down some seventy-three pieces of advice to his wife, young son, and two-year-old daughter, intended to foster and maintain domestic tranquility in an age of anxiety. Taken literally, our neo-Victorian head of the house is a male chauvinist pig of sorts, but what reader would deny that the sources of Crawford's satire run deep in the American grain?

 

Some Instructions is the madly precise fantasy of a husband and father who has stepped through the marital looking glass just to see, from the other side, the perfectly kept house and the well- functioning marriage and family.

 

Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine

 

“Forty years ago I first linked up with Unguentine and we made love on twin-hulled catamarans, sails a-billow, bless the seas . . .”

 

So begins the courtship of a certain Unguentine to the woman we know only as “Mrs. Unguentine,” the chronicler of their sad, fantastical tale. For forty years, they sail the seas together, alone on a giant land-covered barge of their own devising. They tend their gardens, raise a child, invent an artificial forest—all the while steering clear of civilization.

 

Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine is a masterpiece of modern domestic life, a comic novel of closeness and difficulty, miscommunication and stubborn resolve. Rarely has a book so perfectly registered the secret solitude of marriage, how shared loneliness can result in a powerful bond.

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Notes

 

Originally published in 1967, TRAVEL NOTES is a hallucinogenic dream journey thru the incomparable mind that subsequently brought us Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine, then dropped off the grid to become a garlic farmer in New Mexico. TRAVEL NOTES could indeed read like Stanley Crawford’s private travelogue, yet no real-world places or people are explicitly mentioned. Instead we’re taken on a rompish tromp thru wild and often absurd landscapes—in a bus that gets dismantled & reassembled to get around a broken-down car, in a biplane that only flies in the mind of the naked pilot, or on the back of a white elephant named Unable with untranslatable obscenities tattooed to his underbelly—the traveller ever self-aware of the nagging fragility of routine customs, ever on the verge of having the magic carpet pulled out from beneath your feet if you stop to think. This mind-jarring comedy of errors shares campy common ground with Brautigan in its carefree wackiness, with Robbe-Grillet in its disciplined lunacy and obsessive-compulsive attention to detail, with Márquez in its magical realism (though Crawford, in exile on Crete, was at the time unaware of One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in the same year) and with a healthy dose of subversive angst thrown in for good measure. By the end, TRAVEL NOTES becomes a boot-strapping map to your own brain, projecting psychotherapeutic color on the otherwise gray matter of real-world events.

 

–Derek White

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK COVER: "1967 Photo by R. Wilton on the way to

becoming RoseMary Crawford, Platanias, Crete."

 

Gascoyne

 

Back in print after more than a decade, Stanley Crawford's dynamically charged, hysterically black-comic first novel has been described as "a script for a movie starring Groucho Marx, as written by the inmates of Charenton under the direction of WC. Fields …wildly funny" (Washington Star). Meet Gascoyne, a new breed of hero, a man who spends whole weeks in his car, eats there, sleeps there, and conducts his business–wielding power, pinching pennies, and fostering corruption by mobile phone as he somehow manages to drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic at fifty miles an hour. But he's found a new preoccupation, hunting down the killer–last seen slithering away from the crime scene in a tree-sloth costume–of his business associate and finding out how the southern California megalopolis has suddenly slipped out of his grasp.

 

A tour de force blending of genres–Alfred Hitchcock, jungle-war novels, science fiction, mad doctor movies, Westerns, James Bond, 18th-century mock epics, Greek tragedy and hardboiled detective stories–first published in 1966, Gascoyne is a hilarious look into a future that looks remarkably like the present.

 

 

 

 

All material ©2015 Stanley Crawford