BOON JUSTER or The Reason for Everything

by Garth Hallberg


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“Write what you don’t know you know”

Shortly after I decided I really didn’t want to be a cowboy or a locomotive engineer or an astronomer or a paleontologist, or yes, an actuary when I grew up, I decided to be a writer. It wasn’t long after that when some well-meaning chum a step or two ahead of me on life’s learning curve counseled me to “Write what you know.”

That career-deadening piece of advice is fittingly, if apocryphally, attributed to that great humorist, Mark Twain. Writers instinctively know what these words of wisdom gloss over, if not omit entirely—imagination.

Readers crave the release that only imagination can provide, even imagination gone wild. A quick scan of the fiction best-seller list confirms that “writing what you know” is, to put a twist on Hamlet, far more honored in the breach than the observance—honored at least in terms of book sales. Who among us truly knows about aliens or zombies or the end of the world or even, as much as we are reluctant to admit it, the chambered nautilus shell of sexual desire? But who among us isn’t seduced by the pure entertainment value of it all?

But if a writer wants to “say something” as well as entertain, then those hoary words needs to be heeded, in spirit if not slavishly. Imagination may have sparked my wonder why a country that almost fifty years ago had the vision and determination and skill to make “one giant leap for mankind,” now can’t find workable solutions for the pressing political, economic, cultural, and environmental issues confronting it. But it was the extensive research about the veracity of the moon landings that led me to better understand why I had asked myself the question in the first place, to grasp what I didn’t know I knew. That insight enabled me to cast off my preconceptions and cherished beliefs, and create an inventive, entertaining, and thought-provoking narrative about one questioning man in the America of today.

A novel is a willful act of imagination. This one is also a journey of discovery.

Garth Hallberg has had a varied career as a naval officer, an advertising and marketing executive, a cable TV entrepreneur, a non-fiction author, a globe-trotting consultant and lecturer, a college professor, and now, a novelist. He lives with his family in a small hamlet in Westchester County, New York, where they enjoy both the stimulation of the city and the pleasures of the surrounding countryside.