from the Burnett times,
the magic ingredients--
love and laughter.
Tinsel Wilderness is one of the most inspirational books I’ve read in a very long time, and it was with a feeling of exhilaration that I edited these wonderful stories by John Klawitter. As I read one true story after another, I felt like an explorer having come upon exquisite treasure, or a kid on Christmas morning.
We are, in many ways, living through a time in history filled with much bad news and very little inspiration. Grace and manners have been tossed aside in favor of rudeness and petty bickering. Major news channels cover the bickering of celebrities alongside--and, in some cases, in place of--harsh world realities that really matter. Tinsel Wilderness offers quiet, thoughtful refuge from all that.
John Klawitter remarked in an email to me, “Everyone has at least one story...the story of their life.” In this book, he meets the challenge head-on of extracting the important threads from individual events in his life and weaving them into individual stories about himself and other people he has known. Within each story, the reader will find wisdom and life lessons as rich as solid gold.
This book opens with First Flight, set in John’s teenage years within the struggling town of Chicago Heights. He describes the memorable day in which author and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner came to town, and recited poetry and short excerpts from dramatic pieces at his high school. He describes in beautiful and haunting language how unusual an event this was for Chicago Heights. He also reports an event with a teacher following that recital that forever changed his life:
And then Mrs. Wilson tugged at us like so many little boaters, reminding us the magic hour was over. I was bewildered. Time had never slipped by so fast. I could see the auditorium was nearly empty. Amazing! For a moment I didn't budge. Old Mrs. Wilson smiled sympathetically, and I saw she was looking directly at me. "It's not a life for any of you," she said firmly, and she shook her tired old mop of gray curls. Not to be. It was not to be. She was right; it was late, it was time to grab our noses and jump in the warm puddle and swim back to our safe little coves.
I tried to dog-paddle along with the rest, I'm sure I did. After all, the route was wide, clear and well traveled, and we were all taking it together. It was, after all, the only pond in sight and the only way to be taken. And yet somehow, in spite of all that help and good direction, I wasn't going to be able to make it back. I remember a turning--a sudden, irrational fury--and how I stared hard-eyed at poor, unknowing Mrs. Wilson, staring purposefully, like the Virginian had when he set aside his poker hand and said, “When you say that--smile”, glaring until it was she who turned away. And looking back over all the years and all that has passed in between, I can recognize now that it was at this improbable moment that the impossible boat with its awkward rigging and all its outlandish airs, like a newborn bat or insect half-crazed with the first upward taste of flight, unfolded its gauzy wing-like sails and launched itself into the bright and shiny seas.
Tinsel Wilderness continues from there, taking the reader on a journey through John’s years in the Vietnam War--both in intelligence and as host of a radio show called “The Happy Jack Platter Shop”, then on to cover his experiences as a cub copywriter following the Army, his years in advertising, eventually as an advertising executive, his many fascinating experiences working for Disney Studios and both the Hollywood and independent movie industries, his experience writing the approved biography of NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, and his present determination to thrive as a published author. He writes fascinating stories about his experiences with movie stars and directors, always drawing life lessons from those events.
I strongly advise that you read each and every story in this volume. The complete title--TINSEL WILDERNESS: Lessons in Survival as a Professional Creative Person in Hollywood & Other Extreme Climates--meansexactly what it says. The world is full of extreme climates in which creative and decent people are too often practically endangered species. Tinsel Wilderness is a survival guide to the “Tinseltown” that is Hollywood and to all other tinsel and plastic climates in which we find ourselves struggling for authenticity.
After I read Tinsel Wilderness, I felt forever changed and deeply inspired. I wish you, dear reader, the same experience.
Author of Adult and Children’s Literature
Purchase Tinsel Wilderness at Double Dragon e-books.