What Else Did Shel Silverstein Write?
Decades ago in the evenings around closing time a man with a very bald head and a very dark beard used to come sloping into the mysterious bookshop in New York City. His shoulders hunched is the warding off a perpetual cold wind. The proprietor auto pens ler had come to expect these visits indeed. He looked forward to them. He would close up the shop and guide the man back to his. Inner Sanctum. A book lined study with floor-to-ceiling shelves there the bearded man would deliver a Sheaf of papers containing a new freshly penned mystery story to be added to the theology. That Pencil publishing the writer refused to take any money for his efforts. Even though pens lawyer was paying well. He craved compensation. His eyes gleamed as pennsly- slid his payment across the desk between them. It was a stack of used books containing dozens of stories written in the mystery genre later that night he would devour them one by one but first pens lawyer and the bearded man would talk and talk. They talked about books about life. Auto pens layer was just recovering from a devastating break-up and so they spoke about battling in a recent phone interview for this article. Pennsly- remembered that at a certain juncture. His guests said something so piercingly insightful and eloquent about the break up that it took his breath away Henseler said I wish I could remember what he said but I failed to write it down what I do remember. Is that when I expressed my amazement at his facility with words he just shrugged and said I guess that's why they call me a poet. He could've added among many other things because our bald and bearded man was Shel Silverstein a true renaissance man. Of course many of us know him as the author and illustrator of the giving tree a light in the attic and where the sidewalk ends among many of the other wildly successful books that he wrote Andrew for children. That's only the tip of the proverbial Iceberg Silverstein also drew cartoons and wrote plays for adults and penned numerous songs especially country songs. In fact he won. Two grammys for song. Writing one of them for the Johnny Cash. Hit A boy named Sue Sheldon Allen. Shel Silverstein was born into a Jewish family in Chicago in nineteen thirty his father and a bakery which only began to thrive in the wake of the Great Depression. After high school. Shell spent some time studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and later Roosevelt University but was drafted into the US army serving in Korea and Japan. Silverstein began working for the military periodical. Stars and Stripes and it was there that he began regularly publishing his idiosyncratic cartoons after his military service Silverstein got a job as a cartoonist. For the fledgling magazine. Playboy for his playboy gig. He traveled the world sending cartoon dispatches from Bahrein wide in nineteen sixty three Silverstein. Met Book Editor Ursula Nordstrom. Who prodded him into writing books for Children? And that same year he wrote the giving tree a book about the nature of Altruism and selfishness there would become his most famous and popular work his sense of the absurd and the whimsical cartoon line drawings that illustrated this and all of his books would become his hallmarks in deceptively simple language. His exploration of the innocence and imagination of childhood made him one of the most celebrated and widely read authors for generations of children and adults like Auto Penn's lair recall Silverstein telling him that he spent a year living at the playboy mansion as a guest of Hugh Hefner. It was there that he met Susan Hastings with whom he had daughter named Shoshana in nineteen seventy tragically. Susan died in nineteen seventy five and two. Shana passed away. Unexpectedly after cerebral aneurysm. In one thousand nine hundred two by many accounts her death utterly devastated Silverstein in Nineteen eighty-four. He had a son named Matthew with Sarah Spencer. According to Pens Ler Silverstein was a deeply eccentric. Man Pennzoil told us for instance. It wasn't unusual for him to be having dinner in a restaurant with a group of friends and then suddenly announced that he was done. Get up take a taxi to the airport and flight of Chicago or Los Angeles or Florida or wherever he felt like going on the spur of the moment shel. Silverstein died of a heart attack in nineteen ninety nine at the age of just sixty eight but in story song and image. He left behind a remarkably prolific artistic record.