In my “laddybuck” years, I was enamored with the Lost in Space television series. You don’t remember it? Well, it only ran for three years in the mid-60s, so even if you had been born by that time, it was still pretty easy to overlook. Yet I did not miss a single episode, nor a single scene in an episode. So fanatical was I, that if any family member interfered with or merely suggested scheduling something against an episode of Lost in Space, I would become unglued—nothing short of demonic.
A very unpleasant boy I could be, indeed.
This futuristic tale of a wandering space family resonated with me. Well that and … er, I had a crush on the blonde space girl, Judy. Nevertheless, the Robinsons were always trying to find their way to a particular habitable planet that orbited our nearest star. They sought a new life and, consequently, pinned all of their hopes on a faraway twinkling light. But they could never manage to reach their destination. Instead, they essentially “spun their astral wheels” and bounced haplessly from wrong planet to wrong planet—”lost,” as the series title suggests.
In hindsight, I came to realize that this TV series was a metaphor for my own nomadic youth. The biggest difference was that my family was not cohesive (that, and we substituted a ’64 Chevy for a spaceship).
I have written about those times—intermingled with the fascinating history of the early 1960s—in my book, Easy Hearts. It was a daunting project for me, though a very satisfying one. And when the book was initially released a year and a half ago, it did fairly well. But in recent months its sales have lagged. So (not being averse to cheap gimmicks and unsavory stunts) I have made the decision to give the book a re-boot—namely, a new title and a slightly modified cover.
Actually, I am going back to the original working title.
At the risk of it being misconstrued as a science fiction novel, I have re-titled the short simple Easy Hearts to the long-winded Searching for Alpha Centauri in a ’64 Chevy. If you happen to read it, this title will make more sense. The gist of it is that when a family shoots for a faraway star, interesting (even amusing) things are bound to happen along the way. And in my family’s case, they did. While the book is, admittedly, not entirely “fun and games,” it is all-in-all a pretty comical tale. Dysfunctional, combative, impetuous parents, as it turns out, will say and do (as Art Linkletter used to say) “the darndest things.”
I am not the first author to have done a title swap. I checked. It seems that one of the original titles for Gone With The Wind was Pansy. Really. Pansy. And Hemingway’s classic, The Sun Also Rises, was first penned as Fiesta. George Orwell reconsidered his title The Last Man in Europe and came up with the more succinct (and catchy) 1984. And I once watched an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine claimed that the great War and Peace author, Leo Tolstoy, had capitulated from his desired title, War, What Is It Good For?—though I think that one might be pure TV fiction.
Perhaps I watch too much TV.
Anyway, what do Mitchell, Hemingway, Orwell, and Tolstoy have over me—aside from brilliant writings and millions of adoring readers?
No need to answer.
But if you do read and enjoy Searching for Alpha Centauri in a ’64 Chevy, please give it a “Reader Review” on Amazon. Reviews really help the cause (aka book sales).
PS: Here is a short funny Seinfeld clip about temperamental authors and Leo Tolstoy’s supposed alternate title, War, What Is It Good For?: