Zindler's Book Blog
I hope everyone was able to view the three videos of my 80th birthday party at which I read aloud the entire first memoir of my autobiography Confessions of a Born-Again Atheist—the actual confessions to which the title refers. Although the sound is fine for all three parts, for the first half of the videos a part of the screen is obscured by the back of a man’s head. (We didn’t have a tripod high enough to see over a man six-foot seven inches tall!)
The first one, about 15 minutes long, deals with introduction of special guests, and ends with my toast “To the Road Ahead”:
I’ve packed up nothing special
For this trip around the sun.
No time for any special plans,
What’s done is what is done.
Some eighty times, I’ve made this trip;
I’ve seen it all before.
This may not be my final trip,
But there can’t be many more!
The second and third ones have already been described in the previous post.
Although I had already published nine books and written at least five more that never were published, my autobiography was the most difficult and painful to write. While writing out a confession of my darkest secrets could be expected to have been painful, writing the memoir “Love’s Death”—a chronicle of the five-year struggle to save my wife Ann from cancer—was almost impossible to write. Again and again, I broke down at the computer and couldn’t resume writing for days at a time.
If it hadn’t been for the prompting and encouragement of my daughter Catherine, the book probably would never have been finished. Again and again, she reminded me of episodes that needed to be included. Most notable of such forgotten episodes is the one about my encounter with Elvis Presley in a gay bar.
Almost every one of the 29 memoirs that comprise my autobiography is different from all the others. Each one deals with one of my many “implausible lives,” or looks at my life from a different perspective. It’s hard to believe that all those lives could have been lived by a single person, but they were—by me. It’s important to stress that the first memoir—the confessions—is not in any way representative of the rest of the book; nor is the second—“Life on the Farm”; nor is any other one of the 29 memoirs. Each one is its own book
Fortunately, the listing for the book on Amazon contains the “Look inside the Book” feature. If you go to Amazon and look inside the book, read through the analytical Table of Contents. It lists all the various episodes in each of the memoirs. You’ll see wildly different things from “Great-Grandma’s Tunnel Theory of Radio,” and “Snow White’s Glass Coffin,” to “Calling Down the Lightning,” “Man Without a Language,” “Losing Someone Else’s Mind,” “D-Minor in the Desert,” “Night in the Museum,” “Messing with the Mob,” “Isaac Asimov,” “Born-Again Atheist,” “Mother Darwin Knows Best,” and “For a Lasting Erection…” to list but a few.
Oh, yes: many of the memoirs contain one or more of my poems in their biographical context.
“Sissy!”—the memoir containing my confessions—contains the episode “Channeling Tchaikovsky,” describing my first attempt at suicide at Kalamazoo College, and ends with my “Apologia,” my concluding excuse for deceiving so many of my friends until I was eighty years old. You can hear those snippets from my up-coming audiobook edition by clicking on the bolded titles above. And of course, you can see me reading the entirety of “Sissy!” in the three YouTube videos hyperlinked at the beginning of this posting.
NEXT: I will discuss the second memoir in my autobiography, “Life on the Farm.”
For 17 years, Frank R. Zindler was a professor of biology, geology, and psychobiology at Fulton-Montgomery Community College (SUNY), and became Chair of the Division of Science, Nursing, & Technology. For over 37 years he has served as a linguist and editor of scientific literature for a learned scientific society in Ohio. Managing editor of American Atheist Press since the murder of Madalyn Murray O'Hair in 1995, he became interim president of American Atheists, Inc., in 2008, and still serves on the board of directors of that organization. He is a former member of the Jesus seminar, and is an internationally known exponent of the Christ-Myth Theory, the theory that Christianity began without a historical Jesus.