Friday, May 8, 2015


Back in the 1970s when I was writing book reviews for The Washington Post, I reviewed Dale Herd's first book Early Morning Wind, a collection of stories that captured the darker or just more real aspects of what came to be called "The Sixties." I said he was my generation's Hemingway only better.

In an interview some years later Allen Ginsberg when asked who his favorite prose writer was said: "Dale Herd."  Herd put out three collections of stories in the 1970s that solidified his reputation as a writer's writer, or a writer's writer's writer.

And then no more books until more recently when a portion of his novel Dreamland Court was made into a chapbook (I posted about it here). Until now.

Coffee House Press has released Empty Pockets: New and Selected Stories, a book I just read from cover to cover and couldn't have been more satisfied when I finished the last one. Herd is still one of the great prose stylists and most economical of story tellers (some of his stories are half a page) and a master of creating characters and the lives they live, and the world they live them in, with a simple page long monologue or a page and a half of dialogue, or less.

Here's a perfect example, the first story in Early Morning Wind and now Empty Pockets:


She had a kid asleep in the bedroom. I asked her if she wanted to ball and she said yes. She got her gun six times. I told her I was selling my car and all my belongings and buying a sailboat and sailing to Australia. I said she could go but she'd have to pay. How much she said. A dollar thirty-seven I said. She said not bad. Then she said how much for Eric. I said the thousand dollars.

This Sunday, May 10th, I will be lucky enough to be sharing a bill (reading from my new book) with Dale, who will be reading from Empty Pockets (along with poet Lewis Warsh reading from his new book as well) at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street at 7PM and admission is free. Dale's presence makes this an historic event, hope to see you there.

1 comment:

tpw said...

That is one reading I'd love to catch. Actually, to be honest, it's one reading I'd like to part of. As you will remember, I read for the first time ever at St Mark's with Dale in 1975 or 76. Had no idea who he was at that point, but quickly came to love his stories. Hope it's a great night.