ABOUT John Fritz

John Fritz wrote For Lack of Better Words while he was an undergraduate at St. Mary's University in 1992.  The book was reprinted in 1995.  All of the artwork is by his fellow student Jeff Smith.  After receiving his undergraduate degree, John attended law school and is now an attorney specializing in criminal law.  Jeff did the charcoal sketch (immediately below) of the future criminal...uh, criminal lawyer for the back cover of the book.

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Pecan Grove Press

While a student at St. Mary's, John Fritz described himself as "fantastically good-looking, intelligent and modest. For Lack of Better Words is his first book, but it primises to be the first in a long string of unbelievably popular best-sellers, which will probably be translated into every language known to man and will win him hundreeds of literary prizes and bring fabulous riches."

Dr. Alice Kersnowksi, one of John Fritz's teachers at St. Mary's treated the book more seriously when she wrote that in its pages "we are participants, in dialogue, ultimately, with ourselves.  And because we have all been somewhere in the emotional terrain that that forms the sparse settings of these stories, we recognize them on a visceral level,  They are like a Western American Beckett."  Kersnowski adds that "these stories give shapes and names to our contemporary emotional reality.  And perhaps that is what is most important about them; the make us see whatw e feel."


Tex and the Wise Man

Tex and the wise man sat on a mossy log staring at the pile of broken Yugo struts. It was a gigantic pile, reaching up almost out of sight, blocking the sun completely. Maybe for miles. Tex rubbed his large, unwieldy chin, then adjusted the sweat-stained felt hat on his head. "Thet's a hell of a pile of struts there," he said. The wise man remained passive, as wise men, as a group, are wont to do.

Tex spat, then tested the ever-risky conversational waters again. "I reckon," he said, leveling what he hoped was a cool, Clint Eastwood-like stare at his silent companion, "ther's more struts there then you kin shake a stick at."

Without returning Tex's stare, the wise man rose stiffly, then took a small, polished stick from beneath his robe. He held it reverently in his hand for a moment, mumbling a chant in some ancient tongue, or maybe Spanish. Then he suddenly and emphatically shook the stick at the pile of Yugo struts, then at Tex, then at himself, and finally, in a frenzy of stick-shaking, made a gesture which was unmistakably leveled at all of creation, all of the sky and all of the winds—shaking his stick in the face of God himself.

"The world," he said, suddenly calm and seated again, "is material and finite. A truly wise man can 'shake his stick' at anything."

So Tex shot him.

 

***

 

He was vindicated, after a sort, many years later. Tex was a professor of philosophy at a college in the Midwest—one of those campuses that seem to erupt spontaneously out of miles of pasture, bringing with them overpriced bookstores and all-night donut shops.

A blonde undergraduate named Cyndi, who was bearing Tex's child, burst into his existentialism class and ran him through with a sharpened umbrella. This was the direct result of her poorly informed misinterpretation of Kant's categorical imperative, wherein she reasoned that it would be okay if everyone ran Tex through with a sharpened umbrella during his existentialism class. The class assumed that this was an elaborate classroom experiment in situational ethics, and took notes.

ALTERNATE ENDING:

Tex smiled at the wise man and said, "Oh yeah? Let's see you shake that stick at itself"

The wise man thought quietly for a moment, then he shot Tex.

 

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