Donald Newlove began writing in 1934 at age five or six when swept off the earth by the new science fiction comic strip “Flash Gordon”. He landed on the planet Mongo with Dale Arden and crazy Dr. Zarkov who found themselves up against Emperor Ming the Merciless. At ten he began writing his own serials on his kitchen table and on Saturday mornings would read each episode to his friends. At seventeen, as a Marine during WWII, a buddy from the South led him into reading Thomas Wolfe’s Ashville, North Carolina novel “Look Homeward, Angel”, a work whose lyric sweep sucked Donald deep into the novel form he still rides. As decades passed his imagination rose from storytelling to shaping language, passed through many stages. and now has settled into a clean, stripped, heartfelt sentence, though many-layered and lyric. Perhaps this is why he wrote a novel about Orson Welles, whose every frame of film offers the limitless imagination awakened in Newlove on Mongo and the Shakespearean richness of Welles’s visionary filmwork and the urge to look homeward for his richest subjects.
Seventy-plus years into his writing career, Newlove’s work remains immediate and relevant in his reader’s lives: regarding a NY Times review of a new release, “The Trip to Echo Spring” by Oliva Laing, letter writer Robert Palm of Noank, CT wrote,
Alcoholic writers, like alcoholic plumbers and alcoholic bean-counters, drink because they drink. For oblivion, of course; it’s the “because they’re poor sensitive souls” part that’s the stuff of cliché, as Lawrence Osborne’s review of “The Trip to Echo Spring,” by Olivia Laing (Dec. 29), makes clear. What’s peculiar to writers, however, is the fear that without booze they’ll lose their gift and be left with nothing. A sober farmer can still plant corn, the delusion goes, but a writer without his or her demon/mistress will be unable to produce.
In 1983, a former newspaperman for The San Diego Evening Tribune named Tom Bishop gave me a copy of Donald Newlove’s “Those Drinking Days: Myself and Other Writers” to dispel that notion in me. It worked. Granted, my writing was for TV cop shows like “Law and Order”: hardly literature, but a chance to daily ply the writer’s trade, which would have been impossible under the yoke of my disease.
Newlove’s titles with Otego Publishing can be found by clicking the pull-down links beneath his name in the black bar above, or click here to go to his author page on Amazon in a new window.