Today, Roy Underhill sent Chris and me a delightful and much-anticipated gift indeed – the (almost) final author edit of “Calvin Cobb – Radio Woodworker!” I was having a bad day; now I am not. I’m having a grand time laughing my way through Roy’s revised copy whilst sipping a little bourbon and petting my three-legged cat, Possum.
On Friday, I’m headed down with Chris to the Ohio Book Store to search for the perfect stack of 1930s novels to inspire the designer – the typeface and look of the book is of great import to Roy, and rightfully so. The right look adds a graphic dimension to your experience of reading by transporting you beyond the words’ denotations and visually into the era in which the novel takes place. (Wow…I sound like an English teacher.)
We’re also still working to select the perfect artist to illustrate Calvin and his cohorts; the choices have been narrowed…but it’s hard. I don’t have kids, but it’s hard enough to count on others to give my cats the same care and attention as do I (it’s why I dislike long trips). And this little baby of Roy’s has been gestating for a long time – to whom should we entrust its care? I don’t know…but I hope to within the month.
In the meantime, here are a couple paragraphs from the manuscript to whet your appetite.
Calvin Cobb dodged through the morning stream of pedestrians on Pennsylvania Avenue and sprang up the gum-dotted steps of the old Post Office building. In the gleaming, Ionic-columned forest of 1937 New Deal Washington, entering this grimy castle was best done quickly—like pulling off a bandage. Today, though, he paused and glanced back at the odd behavior of the sidewalk crowd. Men and women who should have been hurrying to their own offices were, instead, holding onto their hats and squinting straight up at the clock tower high above him. Calvin threw himself flat against the granite column framing the doorway. It took a few seconds of peering upwards into the shadows of the clock tower for him to realize that it wasn’t a jumper they were looking at—it was a painter working on scaffolding suspended halfway down one of the gigantic clock faces. Calvin now shuddered with a new fear as he reasoned in Washington logic, They’re retouching the clock on the iceberg—the wrecking ball can’t be far behind!
Calvin took a shallow breath and stared up at the narrow iron trusses of the skylight above him and imagined suddenly finding himself transported there, clinging to a thin iron spandrel high above the cavernous pit. The frightening image worked—a shivering thrill began below his ears, converged in his spine, and broke up into a million rivulets in his legs. Calvin Cobb had charged himself with his full morning dose of adrenaline—just as the one-armed woman patted him on the back.
Who is this one-armed woman? Will they tear down Calvin’s office building? What happens when you spread manure at a speed of 50 miles per hour? How can you build things on the radio? Does Calvin get the girl? I know the answers to all these questions. But you’ll have to wait…just a few more months.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. If you have a recommendation for an illustrator, the perfect 1930s font or what have you, please send those direct to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (because it’s really weird to have Chris acting as my secretary; it’s usually the other way ’round).