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. This was the pre-TV-recorder era, you realize. If
you didn't watch it live, you didn't watch it.
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(s), Alpha Centauri. They sought a new life
and, consequently, pinned all of their hopes on a faraway
never managed to reach their
destination. Instead, they "spun their
astral wheels" and bounced haplessly from wrong planet
to wrong planet—"lost," as the series' title
hindsight, I came to realize that this TV program was a
metaphor for my own nomadic youth. The biggest difference
was that my family was not cohesive like the
even close. That,
and, of course, we
substituted a bland, beige '64 Chevy for a cool,
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, 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
I am going back to the original working title.
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 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."
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
I watch too much TV.
what do Mitchell, Hemingway, Orwell, and Tolstoy have over
me—aside from brilliant writings and millions of adoring
need to answer.
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