Gene Twaronite

Early on in his writing career, Gene realized that he was the sort of person so aptly described in an essay by E.B. White (“Some Remarks on Humor”) for whom there is a constant “danger of coming to a point where something cracks within himself or within the paragraph under construction—cracks and turns into a snicker.” Dealing with this “uninvited snicker” has been the story of his life.

Thus, when Gene wrote and sold his first story to Highlights for Children, he started out innocently enough, wishing only to convey some basic scientific information about glaciers in a story that would be fun to read. The result was “The Glacier That Almost Ate Main Street” (published in 1987), which describes a glacier that started in a refrigerator and earned him a HighlightsAuthor of the Month award. Two of his subsequent stories published by Highlightswere, if anything, even wackier—“The Day the Books Leaked” (1990) and “The Worst Day in the World” (1991).

Though he wrote in a more serious vein in his two self-published books of nature essays, Letter to a Mountain and Nature’s School, as the years passed Gene found himself increasingly unable to write without going for the laugh line and seeing the absurd in every situation. That might explain why his favorite quote by Albert Camus now hangs over his writing desk: “The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.”

An amateur naturalist and avid gardener, Gene started writing two new series of essays under the pen names “The Absurd Naturalist” and “The Absurd Gardener,” many of which have been published in various regional magazines and newspapers across the country. He recently toned down his humor (just a little) and wrote of his serious attachment to lizards in the essay, “My Life as a Lizard,” which will appear in the next issue of the literary journal, Snowy Egret.

Some of Gene’s other stories include “The Man Who Stayed Inside,” published in 2003 by the Weekly Reader magazine READ (which was later selected for use in the California High School Exit Exam) and “I Can Fight you on Thursday,” published by Heinemann in an anthology entitled In Short: How to Teach the Young Adult Short Story. And just recently his short story, “Lust and Dust in the Afternoon” (about a man who lusts after his robot vacuum cleaner) was published by Fast Forward The Mix Tape: A Collection of Flash Fiction Volume 3.

He has also written numerous picture book stories, which he still submits dutifully to publishers, sometimes receiving very nice personal letters of praise and encouragement but all ending with the dreaded words “not quite right for our list.”

For the past 20 years Gene faced similar rejections for his first novella, The Family That Wasn’t. He wrote the book in 1990 when he lived in Providence, RI. After revising and polishing the manuscript numerous times to the point where he feared he might edit the life out of it, he decided enough was enough and that he needed

to get the book out there. “A humorous fable of how our families live inside us,” it is the story Gene is most proud of and he wished to share it with others (though making a small profit would be nice, too). So in August, 2010, he self-published the book with iUniverse. So far at least, he is enjoying the ride and looks forward to talking to other PWP writers about their own adventures in publishing. More information about the book can be found at the author’s Web site—www.thefamilythatwasnt.com. And yes, he is currently working on a sequel.