Sauna Preface

Preface from
The Old Man's Last Sauna

Carl Dow  
Author Carl Dow  

What will you do when you run out of ideas? I was once asked in Toronto. Then you’ll have nothing to write.

While it’s true that there are some writers who may write themselves out, any writer worth his keyboard knows that ideas never run out. Each idea will give birth to ten and then ten times ten.

Writers never run out of ideas unless they write in a vacuum. So long as they engage with humanity, they will harvest rich fields. Many of the world’s best known writers have drawn on their personal experiences as children, or of coming of age, as adults young, middle aged, and old.

But to continue their craft, writers draw not only on their own experiences, but on the experiences of others that may come through observation, and through literature. By my definition, literature includes page, stage, and screen.

A good story, well told, unearths a universally human experience, then wraps itself inside a unique, culture-specific expression to which all can identify.

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Story telling, needless to say, is an art form that goes back at least as far as to when our hunter-gatherer ancestors sat around a campfire outside their cave and exchanged recollections of the day’s hunt. Through thousands of years stories have been told, retold, and embellished by succeeding generations. Plain and simple, people have liked stories, probably since the very first story was ever well told.

This volume is an eclectic collection of short stories that I trust will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna, is a ground-breaking, tender love story.

This collection was inspired by my youngest son, Thomas, who once said to me, You have had such an interesting life. You should write about it.

Well I took him at his word but as I wrote one idea grew to more so that I moved from autobiography to fiction; fiction born out of life experience, observation, and knowledge gained from page, stage, and screen.

One story I took special delight in writing, with four and five year old children in mind, and in reading it again and again, is My School Bus Is Missing. This was based on my eight years behind the wheel of a school bus. The best job I ever had.

The Old Man’s Last Sauna is a story not in the least autobiographical. I was inspired to write it because I wanted a tender love story that was free of clichés. And so The Old Man’s Last Sauna came to pass. It may prove shocking to some; but I hope the shock will be a pleasant one.

Aside from the fact that when, as a magazine writer, I was told in a letter from Alan Walker, the then Managing Editor of The Canadian Magazine (circulation two million), that I was considered one of the top ten writers in the country, I rarely get compliments for my writing. I was therefore surprised and honoured when my eldest son, Geoffrey, a ruthless critic, said that he wanted to publish this collection of short stories and several novels I have written.

So I hope you will find as much pleasure here as I have had in writing it. And in the work that will soon be available.

There’s more, much more, to come. I’m sitting at my keyboard on a full sea in a proven craft with sails that are filled hard against the wind. Ideas are in full flood.

— Carl Dow  Ottawa  Canada  September 2013