I spend a lot of time thinking about my life, and the things I’ve done. I’ve decided to make one more run at getting a book published. If you’re going to write a book you should write about something you know, and I know what happened to Alaska in the last forty years. It’s not the place I knew when I first got there in 1969. Then it was poor, and then it got rich, and now it’s in tough shape. The pipeline is running at 25% of capacity, and three fourths of the State of Alaska’s bloated operating budget is now coming from reserves. They’ve cut the Permanent Fund Dividend back to $1,000, and in two years they’ll run out of reserves. The people want their dividends, but they can’t last much longer. Unless Alaska is allowed to develop its resources, and generate new streams of revenue to the State, they’ll need revenue from the Permanent Fund, and they may even have to start drawing down its principal.
I’ve written three books, none of which was published, so I’m a little reluctant to do another one. So I’ve decided to write a couple chapters and send it off to a literary agent. If they encourage me to keep going, I will. Otherwise I don’t think I will.
Babbie and I were in Hawaii on a family vacation in 1986 and she asked me why I didn’t go out and make some money. I thought about it, and she had a point, so I decided to write a book and make some money that way. It was easier than going out and actually earning money, which can take a lot of work. I liked Alan Drury’s books, like Advice and Consent, and so I wrote a cold war thriller, titled Brinkman. It’s about a United States Senator from Alaska named Herman Merculieff, who was part Aleut, part Indian, and part white. I don’t have any Indian blood, but other than that it was about what I’d do if I was a Senator. Kick ass, mainly. Make the Russkies blink.
I sent copies to a bunch of literary agents and got a letter back from an agent named Jay Garon. He thought he could get it published. He said I reminded him of another client of his who had served in the state legislature of Mississippi. A guy named John Grisham. He assigned an editor to work with me, to polish it up. Then the Berlin Wall came down, and the entire premise of the book was obsolete.
I was in Juneau serving my final term in the State House when it happened. I was watching it happen on TV with my buddy Bob Clarke, who let me stay with him for free. Talk about having mixed feelings. Reagan, and America, had won the Cold War, thanks to a Polish Pope. What a story. Bob didn’t know too much about the Pope, and when I explained the things he’d done he got all fired up. Bob was a writer himself, and a good one. He said I needed to write all that down in a book, which he would edit, professionally. So I did, but there was really nothing new in the book. I liked it a lot, but nobody was interested in it.
I tried one more time, with Senator Merculieff stealing a Presidential election. But it was all politics, and no one but a political junkie would be interested in it. Down at the bottom of this website is a link to it. I called it The Eskimo, because the title character is called that by some people, even though he’s Aleut and Indian, not Eskimo.
Uncle Fritz claimed the Pettyjohns had Indian blood. That was complete B.S, but he insisted on it. His wife, and first cousin, Helen Mary, was a quarter Oglala Sioux, but we weren’t. He had a portrait painted of himself, all decked out in Indian gear, looking like Sitting Bull or something. He was very proud of that.
Uncle Fritz never let the truth get in the way of a good story.