Posts tagged ‘Carolie Ulf’

 

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I was getting almost accustomed to being almost single again.

That is, I don’t mean that there were no female people in my life. There was Carolie Ulf, taking care of the kids just as though her daughter and I were still obsessively married.

Then there was Marge, the surgical nurse who supervised the operation on my nose and didn’t seem to mind, or even notice, the way it smelled while it was healing, and Bea from the folk-dance group I had begun taking my kids to now and then. Take them all in all, it was surprising how many basically single but not unavailable youngish women I turned out to know once my wife Carol was no longer obscuring the view.

 
That’s not even counting the Bantam office. There, people weren’t asking me why I bought Dhalgren anymore. They were jealously curious to know instead how I had been able to tell that this peculiar and highly sexual bunch of pages was going to have legs, for legs it was beginning to have. 50,000 copies sold, 80,000, and the books that were on the shelves from the original print order were melting away and the production people were on the phones ordering more, and quicker.

I was as surprised as anybody. In my own world of bookselling dreams I had thought that Dhalgren might turn out to be a sleeper, a book that might have a modest early sale, but a sale that kept on coming and maybe growing slowly, and then, as more and more people discovered it, growing less slowly all the time. But there was nothing slow about the way customers kept appearing and searching for copies to buy.

That was quite a good feeling to have. I found myself spending a little more time in the office to enjoy it., maybe three days a week instead of one or two.

  Continue reading ‘And the Day Came’ »

 

When the great world of non-English-speaking science fiction fans began to flex their young muscles and develop their own brand-new sorts of clubs and cons there was o way to slow them down. So it was no surprise to us Americans that, when there sprang into life an annual science fiction film festival, it was on the other side of an ocean, in a city called Trieste.

When some fan asked what country it was in, some wise guy — it may have been me — asked, “What country was it in when?” Because in the memory of living people — -that is, of people who were living in the 1960s — Trieste had alternately been Austro-Hungarian, Yugoslavian or Italian. And that doesn’t count those periods when the wars that changed things were over, but the old men with the chalk in their hands hadn’t quite finished drawing those map lines that dictated who would live where, and what they. would call themselves.

By the time Trieste hosted Il Festivale di Fantascienza, though, it was irrevocably (they said) Italian, and that’s what got us there. We were sitting on our porch in Red Bank, New Jersey, my then wife Carol and I, me reading the final pages of my latest collaboration with Jack Williamson, the Old Master himself, and Carol studying a map of eastern Europe.

I had just finished the final pages, having made only a handful of penciled improvements, none that required retyping whole pages, which meant all I had to do just then was put it in the mail for a final lookover by Jack. Unless he found something he wanted me to do over, which he almost never did, the next thing I would have to do with that one would be to deposit the check for the on-delivery half of my part of the advance when it turned up in the day’s mail.

That’s when Carol said, “Ðubrovnik” pronouncing the name as though enjoying the flavor of it.

What I said then was. “What?” I don’t know exactly what thoughts had been floating around my easily distracted mind at that time, but I was sure that they had nothing to do with towns with funny names..

She filled me in. “I said, ‘Dubrovnik,’ because I always said I wanted to visit some place that had a name I couldn’t pronounce.”

I reminded her that she had just pronounced it, and she shook her head at me. “How do I know I pronounced it right? Anyway, that’s not the important part. Look on the map here. Here’s this Dubrovnik place, and it’s right down the coast from that sci-fi film thing you said you wanted to go to, the one in Treesty.”

“There isn’t any such place as Treesty,” I informed, “The Film Festival is in Tree-esty. And all I said was maybe one of these years we might take a look — ”

“Well, what’s wrong with this year? You said you wanted to go there.. And just the other day, Mother was asking if we were going to want her to mind the kids while we went somewhere. I told her I’d ask you, so now I’m asking.”

I said, “Hum.” That was my coded expression for meaning, Let me mull this over in my mind, because Carol had a point. Back in those wartime days when my personal travel agent had been the U.S. Air Force, they had shipped me all over the map of Italy, except for two areas they somehow missed. One of them was Sicily, way down at the farthest south. The other, in the farthest north, was that spur of land at the top of the Adriatic Sea that held Trieste. The opportunity to see more of a country I had come to love simply couldn’t be passed up. So we made our plans, Carol and I, and we checked to see that our passports were up to date and that Carol’s mother, Carolie Ulf, was still cheerful about supervising the youngest children for two or three weeks, the two older ones being off at school,.

And next thing you know, our Alitalia jet was touching down at Milan’s airport and we were shifting our not inconsiderable baggage into the trunk of a Hertz car and heading east.

Continue reading ‘Under Three (or Maybe More) Flags, Part 1’ »