Mr. John Reese, who never overheard a phrase, witnessed an event, no matter how
insignificant, caught a whiff of a scent, or saw another human being in motion without it
reminding him of a story, told me this tale a few years ago.

He and his dear wife were walking down Powell Street in San Francisco one fine day when a
sudden wind kicked up. Mr. Reese quickly grabbed for his hat to keep it from blowing away.
His wife reached up to save her hat too, but she was too late. They spun around in the hope
of (maybe) chasing it down, but the wind had already carried the hat completely out of sight.
Since there was nothing they could do about it, they just went about their business.

Returning to the hotel later that evening, as Mr. Reese told it...
We discovered that wind was
not only quick, it was clever. It blew her hat all the way UP Powell Street, AROUND the
corner, THROUGH the front door of Cornell Hotel de France, all the way DOWN the hallway
to room 107, through THAT door, and deposited it neatly in the center of the bed, next to a
matching pair of  gloves.

That tale inspired me to launch an online weekly called American Raconteur in 2003 (I think).
I published it for about two years, maybe a little more. Most of what you read here has been
exhumed from that now defunct site.
This book is dedicated to Dick Tony who has always taken great pride at being unbearable—
something which is neither here nor there for me—but who, one rainy night in Paris, proved
to be also childish and unforgiving. So, you know, screw that; I don’t need it.

That aside, one evening Dick Tony said this to me:
“I would gladly read anything you write on any subject, any time.”

I will never forget that, Mr. Tony. It's pretty much the coolest thing anyone has ever said to
excerpts from

Real American Writin' for Real American Readin'

How To Read a Book, Or Write One
Look Approvingly on Life
Also Available by HENRY EDWARD FOOL

The stories from this and the Low-Life book individually can be very compelling
(like the Mountain story, which among many others compare well with This
American Life/Garrison Keillor sort of stories); in the larger texture of the books
they have some of the flavor and impact of the non-narrative, anecdotal works
of Richard Brautigan, as well as a Donald Barthelme.

Craig Bailey