Category: Anecdotes

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Who is Tom Abate and what does he write about?

Eclectic notions arising from my experiences and observations.

Stories and commentary based on research, interviews, and observations.

Satire, fiction, humor, and advice from the Dead Blogger’s Society.

Experiences and events that formed my character and inform my work and beliefs.

Anecdotes

August 30, 2022
Reflections - anecdotes

The time I bought half-interest in a newspaper from a man with wooden teeth

Chalk that up to the foolishness of youth. But even now, pushing 70, I’m still trying to catch soap bubbles before they pop.

In June of 1980 I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where I’d been editor of the campus newspaper. That experience convinced me that journalists were a sick breed, and that I ought to be one of them. The sensible career path would’ve been to gather my clips and look for a job at a small-town daily, working long hours for low pay and learning bitterness. Instead, I decided to start an alternative newspaper. But where? I had put...
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Anecdotes

Updated date: August 25th, 2022
Reflections - anecdotes

A patriotic Vietnamese man yearns for clean air and democracy

A chance encounter over the Fourth of July weekend should make us wonder why some Americans seem ready to discard freedoms that rest of world envies.

It had been the stranger across the table who started a conversation that veered toward irony this Fourth of July weekend. “Smoke not good,” he had said, in accented English. “Too much particulate matter.” We were seated at an outdoor coffee shop and the breeze had carried the scent past him a moment before it reached me. “Barbeque?” he guessed. I sniffed and shook my head. “Paper,” I replied, then made the leap from his black hair and Asian features...
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Anecdotes

Updated date: August 25th, 2022
Reflections - anecdotes

When top book editors said fiction wasn’t my forte

I took this to heart and spent 30 years practicing nonfiction. Have I learned enough to make stuff up convincingly?

In 1990, I gave up trying to publish a novel based on my experiences as an enlisted man serving in the U.S. Navy around the time that the fall of Saigon ended the Vietnam War. I made the decision to become a journalist rather than a novelist after getting a thoughtful rejection letter from Robert Giroux, a now deceased founding partner of the literary house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. In those days, when it was still possible to get an...
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