Raymond Obstfeld - Behind the Author
Raymond Obstfeld is a writer of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and screenplays as well as a professor of English at Orange Coast College. He lives in California.
Obstfeld has authored or co-authored nearly 50 books. Since 2007, he has been co-author to eight books with NBA basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Obstfeld has twice been nominated for the NAACP Image Award, having won once. He has also been nominated for an Edgar A. Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Dead Heat.
Early in his writing career, Obstfeld wrote under several pseudonyms (Pike Bishop, Carl Stevens, Jason Frost) because he wrote different genres. After writing over a dozen thrillers, Westerns, and occult novels, he decided to return to mainstream literary fiction that he had written in graduate school. Because he’d already achieved some fame as a mystery writer, he decided to write his new novel under the name Laramie Dunaway. The novel, Hungry Women, was written from the points of view of four women friends. It was published by Warner Books without anyone at the publishing house knowing Obstfeld was a man. The novel went on to great success, being published internationally. Laramie Dunaway published two more novels before informing Warner of his gender. The publisher decided to publish Obstfeld’s next novel, Earth Angel, under his real name.
Heart2Heart Message Raymond Obstfeld Introduction
I was in a car accident which left me without a car and to add insult to injury, my phone was also destroyed beyond repair. Now, I should say that I am very lucky as I shudder to think if there had been passengers or if my dog had been in the car at the time. I am also fortunate that my injuries did not involve broken bones or bleeding.
So I have been spending my time counting my blessings, but the reality of the inconvenience and stress of being in an accident of that magnitude remains.
And in my own little way of dealing with things, I put into google the key words car accident and poem and by this method, I was introduced to a poem by Karl Shapiro titled Auto Wreck.
I read the poem and it gave me shivers as it captured how the accident spins you into a loss of control, catapults you into a heightened state of fear, and thrusts you into the depths of existential angst.
And then I did some further research and found Orange Coast College English instructor’s Raymond Obstfeld’s website that presented a study of Karl Shapiro’s “Auto Wreck” from 1942, and how the poem could be connected to the 2020 pandemic…and for me, the car accident in June nearly two weeks ago.
Well, I was so excited with the connections that I hurriedly shot off an email requesting the poetry blogger to call into the KHOI studio and read Karl Shapiro’s poem and he said yes…..but I confess I didn’t do any research until this past Saturday and discovered exactly who I invited to join us for tonight’s Heart2Heart Messages.
Raymond Obstfeld’s Heart2Heart Message
Auto Wreck" by Karl Shapiro
Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating, And down the dark one ruby flare Pulsing out red light like an artery, The ambulance at top speed floating down Past beacons and illuminated clocks Wings in a heavy curve, dips down, And brakes speed, entering the crowd. The doors leap open, emptying light; Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted And stowed into the little hospital. Then the bell, breaking the hush, tolls once. And the ambulance with its terrible cargo Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away, As the doors, an afterthought, are closed. We are deranged, walking among the cops Who sweep glass and are large and composed. One is still making notes under the light. One with a bucket douches ponds of blood Into the street and gutter. One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling, Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles. Our throats were tight as tourniquets, Our feet were bound with splints, but now, Like convalescents intimate and gauche, We speak through sickly smiles and warn With the stubborn saw of common sense, The grim joke and the banal resolution. The traffic moves around with care, But we remain, touching a wound That opens to our richest horror. Already old, the question Who shall die? Becomes unspoken Who is innocent? For death in war is done by hands; Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic; And cancer, simple as a flower, blooms. But this invites the occult mind, Cancels our physics with a sneer, And spatters all we knew of denouement Across the expedient and wicked stones.