Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/pulpnoir.mp3 or read on…




Many solar cycles ago…


As the small child of human parents, I learned about the world—my version

of the world—in the usual manner: through sight, touch, smell, taste, sound,

vibrations…by the ingestion of impressions through intake points of my body

and its neurological complexities…by rearranging the patterns inside my head

to match up with—and sometimes differ with—the ideas generated by thoughts

and feelings, feelings and thoughts.


One enormously interesting way of learning about my world was through the

absorption of words, words composed of alphabet and numbers, strung together

and spaced in order to form sentences and passages and stories and essays both

true and manufactured.


As I absorbed more and more of these words, learning how to distinguish fiction

from fact, learning how to tell when “fact” was fiction, when “fiction” was indeed

fact…I began to see how much fun it was—and how sensible—to toy with words,

allowing them to exist as realities in my imagination but never letting them force me to

believe them. You see, I believed in their power, but I always knew the difference

between reality and fantasy.


Knowing this difference has formed me into the person I seem to be this day—a

secular dreamer, a realist who knows how to operate the spigot—the valve that

can be switched from hot to cold at a moment’s notice. I am astride two

worlds—living in the myth-based, superstition-driven, make-believe world

most of us inhabit each day…and the real world, the one that just is, the

world that operates as if human beings are a momentary figment in the passage

of time—which, of course, they are.


Once my feet were planted solidly upon these separate universes, I could get on

with the process of living my life and deriving pleasure from the kinships and loves

and ideas I most cherish—ignoring all the made-up stuff most folks spend their time

obsessing over.


Part of my early education came from reading pulp fiction, the kind written by visionaries

and philosophers such as Ray Bradbury and Walter Gibson and Kurt Vonnegut and

Aldous Huxley and the hordes of individualists who emulated them in the soft and brittle

pages of pulp magazines.


Pulp literature was so filled-to-the-brim with ideas and joys that a person could learn just

about anything about anything…and metaphor became the way pulp readers got through life.

Understanding a good metaphor is worth a thousand books, a million words. Metaphor can

take you by the hand, by the mind, and lead you safely through a forest of dragons any day.


Want to know more? Come to the shop in June and July and look at samples of the enormous

selection of original, collectible pulp fiction on display here at Reed Books/The Museum of Fond

Memories. Maybe in so doing, you’ll find out that I’m full of useless whimsy…or maybe you’ll

discover you, too, are a metaphor-chaser, blithely tiptoeing past the potholes and explosives of life,

experiencing joy despite all those whose task in life is to make you screamingly bored or miserable.


Come along with me and eschew the obfuscating world


© by Jim Reed 2011 A.D.



Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/lawnmower.mp3 or read on…


I’m flat on my back upstairs in bed, alone in the house and feeling sorry for myself

for not being able to get up and around because of this dislocation thing with my

back–you know, the kind of back pain that only gets worse if somebody tries to

help you to your feet.


The house is a century old and made of old wood that creaks and signals throughout,

whenever anything moves in or about it.


Suddenly, I hear, or feel, that someone or something is on the front porch. Two

thoughts present themselves: 1. a neighbor is about to ring the bell, or 2. we’ve had

a series of yard and porch thefts in the ‘hood lately, so somebody could be grabbing



Since the bell doesn’t ring, I decide I’d better check on things. Adrenaline must be

kicking in, since I arise relatively painlessly and hobble to the stairs, still not sensing

anything but movement on the porch. Halfway down, I can see through the front door

glass that a male is leaving the porch, carrying my lawn mower with him and heading

for the adjacent alley. I can’t possibly run down the stairs after him, so I do the next

occurring thing: I return to the bedroom and raise the alley-side window, stick my head

out and instantly see the lawn mower thief below me, scurrying past.


Without thought or consciousness, my fifty years of theatrical and speech training pop

into mind like a perky toaster, I recall a wonderful scene from The Dresser, in which aging

thespian Albert Finney uses his booming voice to actually stop a train. I expand my

diaphragm, remember how my theatre coach taught me to project words from upstage

to the last row of the audience, add a pinch of Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff for

extra fear factor and yell, “Put that down!” The thief is so startled at the heavenward

voice that he drops the mower, spins around, wondering what to do next. Then, for

emphasis, my brain makes me add, “I’ll shoot you, you S.O.B.!” Where that last line

comes from I’ll never know, but Clint Eastwood and John Wayne must have influenced

me in some way.


The lawn mower man has an epiphany and disappears faster than the Roadrunner.


Later, I retrieve the mower and wonder what in the world made my back pain go away.

If I knew the answer, I could influence the incomes of orthopods and chiropractors



But I’m rather proud of myself for using my best weapon in a responsible manner.

If you ever need help stopping a train or a thief, just call

© 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed










Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/seventhheaven.mp3 or read on…


Eldest grand-daughter Jessica is getting married on Saturday.
One day, about half of her lifetime back,
the two of us prepared dinner together.
Here are my notes. 

     I’m sitting at the kitchen table, observing Jessica. She’s 13 years old these days, and 13-year-olds must be watched and carefully considered, since time passes so fast and before you know it a 13-year-old will be a 25-year-old and you won’t have any idea where the time went, where the moment went, where the 25-year-old went.
     Jessica is sitting at the table in front of four soup bowls, or maybe they’re salad bowls, only they don’t contain soup or salad. Into one bowl she has crumbled up a bunch of Ritz Crackers, another bowl contains milk, another is filled with flour and the fourth holds several eggs she has whisked together into a sunshiny blend. She’s had me cut up a lot of de-boned chicken breasts into nugget-sized hunks–the only way to do it, she insists.
     Over on the stove, the wok awaits usage, since Jessica instructs me not to turn the heat on till she’s through doing what she’s doing at the table, which is: each hunk of chicken must be dipped one at a time into all four bowls, until the hunk looks kind of flaky and golden and quite raw. The process takes a while, but that’s OK because we’re chatting a little bit and she’s got the TV turned up high so she can watch and listen to one of her favorite shows–Seventh Heaven, or something like that.
     Earlier, we’ve gone to Bruno’s Supermarket and bought everything on Jessica’s list: Chocolate chip mint ice cream, corn oil, pre-packaged salad (Jessica likes it because she says it doesn’t have to be washed and it’s already cut up. I wash it thoroughly, just in case somebody named Booger has not practiced good hygiene the day he packs the plastic bag), frozen lima beans for microwave zapping, and whatever else Jessica has decreed for the ideal meal at home.
     Process is important to Jessica. Everything must be done a specified way, a specific way, or the meal will be ruined. She’s a particularly finicky eater, so finding a meal that she’ll actually eat is tricky. She’d rather not eat at all than eat something she’s never tried and has made a firm decision against.
     Anyhow, we get this meal cooked to Jessica’s satisfaction, and we even clean up the kitchen so that there will be no trace of the havoc we’ve caused in her father’s absence.
     The deep-fried chicken nuggets are good–we’ve cooked about four times as much as we can eat. And we’re both somewhat satisfied with ourselves. She gets what she wants–a meal just like her Aunt Vikki cooks. I get what I want–a nice meal at home, not prepared by strangers, prepared with love and camaraderie, and the company of my grand-daughter.
     We settle in to wait for her father’s return, watching this TV show she loves, Seventh Heaven,  and the night is quite all right, as nights on earth or in Seventh Heaven sometimes are

© 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed



Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/metallicblue.mp3 or read on…



I never kissed her, I never conversed with her, the two of us never touched.

She sat across the classroom from me and never noticed me, but I noticed her.


Her eyes were metallic blue, so clear that the rest of her features hardly mattered.

She could have weighed three hundred pounds, she could have been smelly,

she could have been profane, but it would not have mattered, because all I saw

were those metallic blue eyes set perfectly in her clear, creamy complexion, her

short brown hair simple and smooth, framing that face in which two clear metallic

blue eyes floated for my private pleasure.


I don’t remember her name. I never had the courage to speak with her. I have

no idea what became of her.


I just remember those clear blue metallic eyes longing for me, even though their

owner was not aware of my existence. I remember longing for her eyes and

everything that went with them, but this was long before I knew how to reach

out and ask for what I wanted, long before I knew why I wanted what I wanted,

long before life eased me slowly into maturity and mellowness.


Down the many years since, I fell in love a thousand times, a moment at a time.

But the girl with the clear metallic blue eyes still flirts without knowing it, still makes

me smile, reminds me that longing is far better than possessing, far more powerful

than love gained and lost, far more potent than reality


© 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed



Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/slipperymind.mp3 or read on…


As the storms of Wednesday-last hover and sink deeply into our minds, it occurs

to me that, in the long run, we tend to rearrange our memories and allow them to fade.

To a storyteller, this is unacceptable behavior.The only plea a teller of true tales can make

that is worth making is, Please don’t let this happen. Write down/record each detail of your

experience, whether you were in the Eye or whether you escaped physically untouched. Fact

is, we were all touched, deeply and irrevocably. What matters now is to work these events

through the system, so that some degree of peace and closure and perspective can occur.


You are your own book, whether you know it or not, and now is the time to start transcribing

your life so that you and others can come to terms with the preamble, duration and aftermath

of what you have lived.

That’s why I do my 90-minute presentation, How to Become Your Own Book. It’s one way I have

of helping you get started–if you’re having trouble getting started.

How to Become Your Own Book. Next presentation: Wednesday, May 11, 6:30 till 8p.m. at the

Hoover Library. Free and sponsored by the Women’s Business Center. http://birmingham365.org/event/detail/441205719/How_to_Become_Your_Own_Book 


I like the slippery past of my mind.

May I explain?

As a village elder, I can tell you this for sure: memory improves with age.

Once I experience something, it remains indelible in my stockpiled recesses.

As I grow and gain wisdom and interpret those images a thousandfold, the

pixels increase in density and complexity and project a clearer, higher-definition


I’m not kidding!

By the time the brew ferments, maybe a month later, maybe half a century later,

it’s ready to share with others.

At that point, it is birthed as a fully-developed child in the latest story or column

that writes itself for me. It comes out unedited, unexpurgated, undiluted, and complete.

I don’t understand how this happens, but now that I’ve written more than 2,000 stories

and pieces of stories, and a dozen or so books, I’m pretty used to the process.

One litmus test is to allow the stories to leak out into the cosmos so that readers can

check them out, test the facts, critique the results. From them, I’ve learned that my mind,

as flaky as it outwardly appears, is actually a pretty good recorder of life.

At my age, I’m finally beginning to trust my writing instincts and storytelling skills.


So, How to Become Your Own Book is my gift to you. It’s for skilled writers who want

some jumpstarting…for beginning writers who want an emotional roadmap…for those

who don’t think they are writers but actually are.

You are now the writer. Keep me posted and let me know how things turn out.

Before my mind gets too slippery

© 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed