WHEN I WAS A LOW-LIFE:
An American Education
This work is about the good people I bumped into while adrift on the river of Life as it flowed
through Richmond Virginia, from August, 1967 until sometime in September 1971. While writing
about this time I discovered (much to my surprise really) that in many cases the person involved
reached out to me. Maybe that’s the way it happens with well adjusted people as well; I’d only be
I’ve always been an excruciatingly shy person preferring solitude to the painful, usually
embarrassing, and more-often-than-not awkward alternative. Because of that I have lived my life
adrift. Naturally, I’m tempted to wrench that around a bit and try to pass it off as ‘Faith’, but I
don’t think anyone would fall for it.
In this Life when I have had friends at all, it has typically been a single friend, one person at a
time, who I felt accepted me for who I am. Beyond their acceptance, I feel pretty good about the
fact that they all seemed to have liked me as well. My father has always been one of those friends.
One evening before I left home for Richmond, he took me aside and told me this: “You’re going
to college and from now on you can do whatever you want to do and I will not criticize you. But,
if you ever want my advice or need my help, you only have to ask.” My father, a good and honest
man and truly a man of his word, is, in my mind, what every man should be.
I have fallen so far short of that. My fear is that I’m about to prove it. But I don’t know what I
can do about that now; I couldn’t do anything about it then. If my math is correct, these events
took place more than 40 years ago.
Perhaps you should know, going in, that in those days, in Richmond, due to some peculiar glitch
in the American psyche, there was no greater crime on earth than for a male to have long hair. I
was then a criminal. Almost everyone I knew was.
|"I now realize that during all those years when I was praying for a small, dedicated readership,
I should have been praying for a large dedicated readership." Henry Edward Fool
5.0 out of 5 stars
Captures the essence of a generation.
By J. Gregory
Amazon Verified Purchase
The late '60s was an fascinating time to be in college - especially in Richmond. There were enormous societal
upheavals at that time. From the war in Vietnam, to the ever present drugs, to the loosening of sexual morals,
to the changing dynamics of living in the Capital of the Confederacy.
This book captures all of it as well as the essence of what it was like to be an art student in this troubled time.
It follows the writer's transition from a shy patriotic average American youngster getting his first taste of
independence then continues with the transition over four years of his education. It ends with a difficult
graduation and his ironic first job out of college.
It is always good to remember that education in college is far more than books and lectures. This is an
4.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyable time travel back to a Richmond that (thank gooodness) no longer exists,
By C. Fitt "needlewoman" Amazon Verified Purchase
Whoever Henry Edward Fool is (since he is clearly not the guy in the Hal Hartley movie), he brought great
pleasure and many laughs to one who was a grad student at VCU (formerly RPI) just a few years after Fool's
time there. I think I probably would have enjoyed the book almost as much if the settings and people had not
been so familiar. Thanks.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Thank you, Mr. Fool!
By SUSAN MAKARA Amazon Verified Purchase
A well written slice of American culture during a time when racial tensions were high, people with long hair
were suspect, and war protests were in the streets.
An art student between 1967-1971 at a college in the conservative Southern city of Richmond, Virginia,
Henry Edward Fool tells us about his friendships and interactions with a homeless park bench man, a crazy
and inspiring professor, drug dealers, lusty college girls, and much, much more.
I could not put this book down. I went to the same school at the same time. I was transported back and I thank
Henry Edward Fool for making that possible. This book is for anyone who wants to read an entertaining and
very well written book about a challenging time in our cultural history.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Better than Bay Blues
This is the work of the same guy who published BAY BLUES in the late 1980s. He's thoroughly entertaining.