Before most of you were born, the American writer, Norman Mailer, brought out a book with this title. Not being keen on Mailer (I seem to have an aversion to pugilistic writers inclined to stab their wives), I never read it. But here I would like at least to purloin his title in order to do something I trust will be less violent, though perhaps still a little unseemly. You see, I may need to ask your help with a new book of mine.
Here's the story. I’ve just published my latest – and my last – book of essays, which I’ve entitled Blogging Toward Infinity: Last Notes from the Ringdom. Some of you – I hope many of you – have already read some of the blogs in this book, but I doubt that any of you have read all of them. Now, here’s your chance in case you missed some of my imperishable writings. Anyway, here’s what the cover looks like:
And here’s link to the book in case you’d like to check it out: https://amzn.to/3SFtwdZ
Since this is my farewell to writing books, the cover shows me waving goodbye as I go off into the infinite distance, not to death, but to the death of writing books. Since I’ve written more than twenty books over the last forty years or so, I think it’s time to retire my fingers and use them for better purposes, such as remembering to cut my fingernails before people mistake me for Howard Hughes.
But seriously, I’m not just asking you to consider buying my book, though perhaps some of you will, or, if you do, whether you would be kind enough to write a review and post it on Amazon, which would be nice and appreciated. No, I would like to ask you another favor, if you’d consent to become a part of my coalition of the willing.
You see, although I don’t expect to retire on the royalties from the sale of this book, I would like to avoid ending my life as a literary failure. So, to avoid that sorry fate, since I am not able to use a professional publicist to hoot the horn for my book, I’m hoping that some of you would be willing to post something about this book on your Facebook page or other social media that you use. Please don’t do this if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. In that case, just delete this blog and don’t bother to read the rest.
But if you’d care to help me promote this book, here’s what the publisher wrote up about it, which you could perhaps use:
This is Ken Ring’s last book, and though he claims to spend most of his days whimpering, his farewell to writing, as his final essays will demonstrate, certainly goes out with a bang. As he veers unsteadily toward 87, Ring has lost none of his verve or literary panache. As always, his essays sparkle with his usual wit, but mainly reflect Ring’s more serious concern to address some of the topics that have engaged him during this last phase of his life.
Still, the book begins in a more lighthearted way with his reminiscing about his early life with his absent father (“my father, once removed,” he calls him) and about some of the other things that shaped his character, such as the greatest movie ever made that few people have heard of. He also devotes several essays to largely unknown facets of Helen Keller’s extraordinary career, including “the sex life of a saint.” But most of the rest of book is devoted to Ring’s careful study of the lives of animals and considerations of animal welfare and the movement for animal rights. And it concludes, fittingly enough, with a number of essays that distill what Ring believes are the most important lessons that people should take from his many years of researching near-death experiences – all of which was foreshadowed by that film he saw as a youth that changed his life and foretold his destiny.
Or perhaps you might want to quote from my preface:
You now hold in your hands – unless you are reading this on your screen – my last book. Of course, I don’t mean my most recent book; I mean the last book I will ever write. Yes, you’ve heard this vow before. Each time I write a book nowadays, I tell you (and my publisher) that it is absolutely, positively and definitely my last book, which turns out to be true until one day, it isn’t. However, now that I am heading toward 87 and the scrap heap, I am convinced that I have finally reached the end of my writing life. From now on, I intend to devote myself to perfecting my cribbage game while I can still count.
But before I go down for the count, I had better tell you what you will find if you can get past this preamble.
In recent years, I’ve been too lazy to write the kind of books I published when I had some misguided notion that I had something worth writing about, such as near-death experiences. So, eventually, after I became an octogenarian, I took to writing blogs. I would then re-brand them as “essays,” round them up and put them into a book. I called my first such endeavor, Waiting to Die, but then when I didn’t, I brought out a second collection, which I entitled, Reflections in a Glass Eye. The first book did rather well; the second one, with its meaningless title, was a dud. If the third time is really “the charm,” I’m golden.
In this book, you will find “some of my favorite things.” It begins with some accounts of my personal history as a youth and continues with recollections of friends once dear to me. This is sort of my faux-Proustian version of “in search of lost time.” In the next section, I present some portraits of well-known figures about whom I figured I could tell you some things you never would have guessed.
The final two sections are much longer. The first is about one of the great loves of my later years. Having had my share of romances with the ladies, I have come to love animals. Not that I live with any, but I love to read and write about them. And to strike a serious note for once, if briefly, I worry about their welfare, as you will see. And, finally, I return to an earlier love, my NDE work, and try to bring out not only some new developments in that field, but what I think everyone should know about these experiences, preferably before they die. And that includes me, just in case I can ever manage to cross that final finish line instead of interminably waiting to die.
Or, hell, just write what you please.
If you need to identify me professionally, you could use this brief bio:
Kenneth Ring, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, the author of five books on near-death experiences (NDEs), including his bestselling Lessons from the Light, and cofounder and first president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS).
OK, that’s my pitch and request. I hope you don’t find it too shamelessly self-serving, but at least I never stabbed any of my wives.