The Happiness of Children
Sam Small was a sad little toadstool indeed. He called for his apple juice and he
called for his tea and not a whisper of a reply echoed from the long hall of inherited
Sam’s biological father, Abersome Jabberly, lived in London with a new wife
Sam’s mother liked to call The Ice Queen. Sam’s stepfather worked as a bouncer in a
grunge den in downtown Seattle and went to auditions for Pearl Jam roadies and David
Lynch movie extras to show Sam’s mother he was current.
Mrs. Small wanted to be a magician but had to work for an Afghan restaurant
“until the magician thing works out.” She was getting a little impatient with kebabs and
rosewater. She began having dreams about lambs running through her bedroom with
blood dripping from their necks, bleating loudly. She didn’t talk about the dreams, but
Sam knew. He was an intuitive little scamp.
Sam called louder. Still no reply. He began singing his apple song and his tea song
and as the notes blued with improbability, Sam began whistling in the freshly fallen dark.
Which had discovered the advantages of clinging.
Then one day Sam’s mother was trying to change a dove into an egg and Sam’s
stepfather said, “You got it backwards.” Sam’s mother changed him into a homeless
Don’t be so quick to judge. She had her reasons. Sam understood.
Then Sam wanted to eat eggs for breakfast and Sam’s mother tried to change one
into an omelet for him. She changed the egg into something, but Sam didn’t know what it
Nevertheless, Sam demanded of himself that he remain a happy little toadstool.
For a while. Until some other miserable thing that life does to you came along. But
whatever it was, he was not going to worry about it. And you could not have guessed
what was going to happen either because it wasn’t going to happen. It just did.
And Sam’s mother was very pleased indeed that she won that bloody custody battle
before gradually depriving her son of his exquisite sense of false decorum, and Mrs. Red
Hen didn’t even notice her 34th stolen almost-a-baby, which had not been changed into
anything, but just stayed an almost-a-baby until Sam added it to the increasingly
disturbing history of his stomach.
Fiction. Modern Abstract Fables.
(First edition, hardcover with dustjacket, 524 pages, $36.50 USD.)
Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days draws from fairy tales, a condescending of a 1938 Social Studies reader for 6th grade, an 1890 handbook on marital compatibility, numerous annoying educational advancement studies, the myths and legends of third-world countries and minority peoples, pulp fiction, a history of carnival side shows, folktales, frequent conversations with Crows, Owls and a wide variety of underground inhabitants, insects and the people who collect them, Joseph Cornell, Günter Eich, Russell Edson, the French Surrealist poets, the Quay Brothers, letterpress printing, and the author’s inability to channel his imagination linearly.
Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.