FIFTY-FIVE AND COUNTING: ESSAYS AND STORIES
By James C. Schaap
2004, paperback, $18.00
From the Preface
It just seemed right to do this book. Twenty years ago, after the publication of a my first book, Sign of a Promise and Other Stories, I asked Dordt College Press if they'd be interested in doing another book of mine, something I called Thirty-Five and Counting, a collection of essays and a few really early stories. They did.
That collection never sold as well as Sign of a Promise, but it's there anyway, and it is, by my estimation, a marker on a journey—my own as a writer. That book is, this year, 20 years old. I don't know why we demarcate certain way stations on our paths, but 20 years seemed about right for a sequel.
So I gathered together some of the things that I'm especially proud of in the last several years and put them here, hoping this collection of stories and essays, two decades later, shows some advance, some movement toward greater accomplishment and—may I be so bold?—wisdom. You'll have to judge yourself.
I hope you will excuse all the personal stuff herein, a section about identity, a section about home; but I've always assumed that Socrates wasn't terribly off-base when he advised to "Know thyself." I've also included some thoughts about writing—what it involves, what it costs, what it rewards. The last section is once again a few short stories—fiction, that is, make believe that's sometimes more true than life itself.
Before the novelist Frederic Manfred went into brain surgery, he told the surgeons to be very careful with their probing: "There are at least two or three good novels up there yet," he warned them as he pointed to his temple—or so he told me. I'm not sure what's left in the synapses of my brain or the caverns of my heart, nor can any of us be sure of what time the Lord allows us. Manfred never wrote those novels after all; he died only months after that surgery.
But, for the time being at least, this offers what is there, up to my 55th year, the year of the birth of a grandchild and the death of my father.