- Charles Weedon Westover killed himself on February 8th, 1990.
- He was 55.
- He shot himself in the head with a .22-caliber rifle.
- Between the eye and the ear.
- The right eye and the right ear.
- The temple.
- Charles Weedon Westover was better known by his stage name, Del Shannon.
- The name printed on his death certificate is “Charles Weedon Westover” though.
- CWW found success as Del Shannon, performing and recording the song “Runaway.”
- The 7″ 45rpm recording of “Runaway” became a number one Billboard hit in the United States of America in February of 1961.
- “Runaway” was the number one hit in America for four weeks.
- It was later a number one hit in the United Kingdom.
- And Australia.
- But it was not a number one hit in 1967, when CWW as Del Shannon rerecorded it as “Runaway ’67.”
- In fact, “Runaway ’67” failed to chart.
- CWW, under the name Del Shannon, wrote “Runaway” with Max Crook.
- Crook played the strange, dark, jaunty, bipolar solo in “Runaway.”
- Crook played the solo on a musical instrument of his own invention, a type of early electronic synthesizer he called the Musitron.
- Crook’s Musitron was a modified version of an earlier synthesizer, the clavioline (similar, of course, to an ondioline).
- Perhaps Crook’s most significant modification was adding reverb to his organ via a custom-built echo chamber that incorporated garden gate springs.
- Crook’s solo is the haunting spirit of a haunting song.
- Or maybe the haunting spirit is actually CWW/DS’s falsetto, which cracks through the piano and baritone sax approximately 45 seconds into the song, announcing that the narrator wah-wah-wah-wah-wonders why why why why why why she ran away.
- The lyric is simple but also dark, portentous, loaded with a primal anxiety that hints at outright menace.
- Why a “runaway”?
- Why did she run away?
- And why does the narrator want her there with him, walking in the rain?
- (To end this misery).
- CWW continued recording and performing as Del Shannon for the rest of his life.
- His final performance was in Fargo, ND, not a week before his suicide.
- Of course he sang “Runaway” there.
- It was his biggest hit.
- None of his other songs came even close.
- He did the alcoholic thing, the drug addict thing, and then the AA thing.
- He was, by all accounts, a life-long manic depressive.
- And many claimed a kind man.
- A generous man.
- He played “Runaway” on the David Letterman Show in 1986, shouting the song but hitting the falsetto.
- (Back in 1961, Harry Balk, who produced “Runaway,” had to speed up the recording–from an A minor to a B flat–to match CWW’s vocal–he was nervous and flat).
- Shirley Westover, his wife of 31 years, had left him the year before his Letterman appearance.
- CWW remarried in 1987. He married a neighbor’s daughter, Bonnie Tyson (also known as LeAnne Gutierrez), who was half his age at the time of the marriage.
- Bonnie found CWW’s body.
- Slumped in a rocking chair, wearing his bathrobe but not his hair piece.
- He was working on music with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne around the time of his death.
- And clearly a Wilbury in spirit.
- CWW has no grave.
“Titles for Unwritten Articles, Essays, and Stories”
from Samuel Butler’s Note-Books
- The Art of Quarrelling.
- Christian Death-beds.
- The Book of Babes and Sucklings.
- Literary Struldbrugs.
- The Life of the World to Come.
- The Limits of Good Faith.
- Art, Money and Religion.
- The Third Class Excursion Train, or Steam-boat, as the Church of the Future.
- The Utter Speculation involved in much of the good advice that is commonly given—as never to sell a reversion, etc.
- Tracts for Children, warning them against the virtues of their elders.
- Making Ready for Death as a Means of Prolonging Life. An Essay concerning Human Misunderstanding. So McCulloch [a fellow art-student at Heatherley’s, a very fine draughtsman] used to say that he drew a great many lines and saved the best of them. Illusion, mistake, action taken in the dark—these are among the main sources of our progress.
- The Elements of Immorality for the Use of Earnest Schoolmasters.
- Family Prayers: A series of perfectly plain and sensible ones asking for what people really do want without any kind of humbug.
- A Penitential Psalm as David would have written it if he had been reading Herbert Spencer.
- A Few Little Crows which I have to pick with various people.
- The Scylla of Atheism and the Charybdis of Christianity.
- The Battle of the Prigs and Blackguards.
- That Good may Come.
- The Marriage of Inconvenience.
- The Judicious Separation.
- Fooling Around.
- The Diseases and Ordinary Causes of Mortality among Friendships.
- The finding a lot of old photographs at Herculaneum or Thebes; and they should turn out to be of no interest.
- On the points of resemblance and difference between the dropping off of leaves from a tree and the dropping off of guests from a dinner or a concert.
- The Sense of Touch: An essay showing that all the senses resolve themselves ultimately into a sense of touch, and that eating is touch carried to the bitter end. So there is but one sense—touch—and the amœba has it. When I look upon the foraminifera I look upon myself.
- The China Shepherdess with Lamb on public-house chimney-pieces in England as against the Virgin with Child in Italy.
- For a Medical pamphlet: Cant as a means of Prolonging Life.
- For an Art book: The Complete Pot-boiler; or what to paint and how to paint it, with illustrations reproduced from contemporary exhibitions and explanatory notes.
- For a Picture: St. Francis preaching to Silenus. Fra Angelico and Rubens might collaborate to produce this picture.
- The Happy Mistress. Fifteen mistresses apply for three cooks and the mistress who thought herself nobody is chosen by the beautiful and accomplished cook.
- The Complete Drunkard. He would not give money to sober people, he said they would only eat it and send their children to school with it.
- The Contented Porpoise. It knew it was to be stuffed and set up in a glass case after death, and looked forward to this as to a life of endless happiness.
- The Flying Balance. The ghost of an old cashier haunts a ledger, so that the books always refuse to balance by the sum of, say, £1.15.11. No matter how many accountants are called in, year after year the same error always turns up; sometimes they think they have it right and it turns out there was a mistake, so the old error reappears. At last a son and heir is born, and at some festivities the old cashier’s name is mentioned with honour. This lays his ghost. Next morning the books are found correct and remain so.
- A Dialogue between Isaac and Ishmael on the night that Isaac came down from the mountain with his father. The rebellious Ishmael tries to stir up Isaac, and that good young man explains the righteousness of the transaction—without much effect.
- Bad Habits: on the dropping them gradually, as one leaves off requiring them, on the evolution principle.
- A Story about a Freethinking Father who has an illegitimate son which he considers the proper thing; he finds this son taking to immoral ways, e.g. he turns Christian, becomes a clergyman and insists on marrying.
- For a Ballad: Two sets of rooms in some alms-houses at Cobham near Gravesend have an inscription stating that they belong to “the Hundred of Hoo in the Isle of Grain.” These words would make a lovely refrain for a ballad.
- A story about a man who suffered from atrophy of the purse, or atrophy of the opinions; but whatever the disease some plausible Latin, or imitation-Latin name must be found for it and also some cure.
- A Fairy Story modelled on the Ugly Duckling of Hans Andersen about a bumptious boy whom all the nice boys hated. He finds out that he was really at last caressed by the Huxleys and Tyndalls as one of themselves.
- A Collection of the letters of people who have committed suicide; and also of people who only threaten to do so. The first may be got abundantly from reports of coroners’ inquests, the second would be harder to come by.
- The Structure and Comparative Anatomy of Fads, Fancies and Theories; showing, moreover, that men and women exist only as the organs and tools of the ideas that dominate them; it is the fad that is alone living.
- An Astronomical Speculation: Each fixed star has a separate god whose body is his own particular solar system, and these gods know each other, move about among each other as we do, laugh at each other and criticise one another’s work. Write some of their discourses with and about one another.
French for author, this term denotes a film director who makes the same film again and again and again.
A detailed list of the books from which the author plundered all his or her good ideas.
The rhetorical device of circumlocution can be seen by the reader or made evident to the reader when a writer chooses to compose phrases, clauses, or sentences that are inordinately complex, exaggerated, long-winded, or otherwise unnecessarily verbose in order to demonstrate, convey, show, or express an idea, image, or meaning that might have been demonstrated, conveyed, shown, or expressed via the use of shorter, simpler, more direct phrases, clauses, or sentences that demonstrate brevity.
Inexperienced writers, especially composition students, are advised to use circumlocution to pad their writing and meet the assigned word count.
A grammarian who holds strong opinions and judgments about prescriptivists.
Telling without showing. Exposition can be extremely useful to the reader, who will slight the author who successfully employs it.
FREE INDIRECT STYLE
James Wood Approved!™
A comforting, nebulous fantasy.
A biography composed entirely of distortions, half-truths, and outright lies.
The funny dirty bits that make you feel clever.
Trade-specific diction employed (preferably clumsily) to confuse the average reader and offend the expert reader.
Early 21st-century reading device, often mistaken as a harbinger of literary doom.
An adverb that most often means figuratively.
The most enduring—and therefore most true—kind of story.
A writer’s ability to just chill and not know. (Also useful for lazy frauds).
OBJECTIVE POINT OF VIEW
A comforting, nebulous fantasy.
A grammarian who holds strong opinions and judgments about descriptivists.
The story-teller’s scheme. Make it up as you go along. Steal as necessary.
A comforting, nebulous fantasy.
An adjective used to describe a literary work that is not quite as good as anything by W.G. Sebald.
A work often mistaken as more serious or more important or more literary than a comedy.
A comforting, nebulous fantasy.
A specific type of lucidity that authors sometimes use.
The emotional byproduct of attempting to maintain comforting, nebulous fantasies.
A stop-gap for bouts of Weltschmerz.
Zyzzyva is a real word, and this fact should give us all some small measure of hope..
As you, savvy reader, are undoubtedly already aware, The New Yorker has opened up some of its archive for the rest of the summer (to show off its website redesign, I guess).
Here’s a reading list of short fiction from the archives (admittedly, some of the stuff I wanted to put on here is still behind a paywall).
Some of the stories on the list are classics, some are pieces I’ve shared on this blog before, some are excerpts from longer works, and a few are stories I have yet to read myself.
From William T. Vollmann’s forthcoming collection, Last Stories and Other Stories.
- Flann O’Brien
- Mark Twain
- Daniel Defoe
- Iceberg Slim
- Edith Van Dyne
- Acton Bell
- Victoria Lucas
- S.E. Hinton
- George Eliot
- George Sand
- George Orwell
- Toni Morrison
- Anne Rice
- Ford Madox Ford
- Robert Galbraith
- Paul Celan
- Lewis Carroll
- Franklin W. Dixon
- Lemony Snickett
- O. Henry
- Richard Bachman
- John le Carré
- Italo Svevo
Sure–okay, sure, you’ve seen this before (or maybe not), I know I have (I’ve even posted it before). But today is D. Barthelme’s birthday (he’s dead of course), and I’ve read or reread (or, more accurately read) most of his stuff (sans The King, which I’ve been saving) over the past year. Anyway, this here list comes via Kevin Moffett who got it off DB’s former student, Padgett Powell, when he (that is Moffett) was finishing up at my alma mater, the University of Gators (where Powell continues to teach today, having replaced Harry Crews, RIP). Anyway (again with that transition!), check out Moffett’s original share-piece at The Believer; he describes Gainesville’s Friends of the Library Sale, which was always fun. I got a copy of John Barth’s Chimera there (on the list, natch), among other books, but I didn’t get any Barthelme. I’ve read 31 of the 81 books on the list (this includes fantastically awarding myself the “Samuel Beckett entire” entry but hell man I think it’s been counted as one work here (at least by Moffett?), which maybe it should be but no I haven’t read all of Beckett but hell I’ve read a lot, if not enough, but anyway (again!)–31).