The Grapes of Gatsby

Some "near-final" thoughts on the poet, writer, essayist, blueberry picker Thomas J. McSheey. Yes, I know that months ago I had promised a quick end to my research on McSheey, and a quick death to him as well, but I'm having trouble letting go.

Also, besides researching McSheey's biography, I have been busy at work these past months / year editing and proofreading my latest book (with co-author Jim Coogan) entitled Cape Odd. As its subtitle suggests, the new book, due out in November, contains "Strange & unusual stories about Cape Cod." This weekend I'm having a final look at the printer's proof before we send it off to print. Again, I'm having trouble letting go.

It certainly is an "odd" book. For instance, all the chapters begin on odd pages. There are 17 chapters in the book, with the last chapter beginning on page 117 - both odd numbers (and 17 is prime to boot). The title, Cape Odd, has seven letters - odd and prime. The subtitle, "Strange & unusual stories about Cape Cod" has seven words (if you count the ampersand). And it is being released in the 11th month of the year - again, odd and prime.

So, this Christmas -  Hanukkah -  Holiday season look for Cape Odd in a bookstore, gift shop, library, or dentist waiting room near you. 



To continue with my McSheey research...


In order to make ends meet, the poet Thomas J. McSheey took paying jobs from time to time. One such job found him working for an eccentric book publisher who had the strange notion to combine certain classic literary works so the reader could enjoy two famous novels at the same time.

In that vein, McSheey edited the texts for a number of novels, dovetailing the plots and characters in ways to present both stories in one abbreviated format, yet while keeping intact some of the main themes.

For instance, in his edited version of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, under the new title The Grapes of Gatsby, 1920's socialite Daisy Buchanan from Gatsby runs off with Depression-era share cropper Tom Joad from Grapes, the two eventually settling in Phippsburg, Maine where they open a gift shop.

Other edited works by McSheey included Of Mice and Moby Dick (featuring the novels of Steinbeck and Herman Melville), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Jane Eyre (by Robert Louis Stevenson and Charlotte Bronte), War and Prejudice (by Leo Tolstoy and Jane Austen), and Wuthering Women (by Emily Bronte and Louisa May Alcott).

Unfortunately, the concept never caught on, although McSheey's version of Huckleberry Frankenstein (by Mark Twain and Mary Shelley) received rave reviews for its "tender depiction of the undead rafting along the mighty Mississippi."


Jack Sheedy

PS: Coming in November (besides my new book, Cape Odd, Harvest Home Books, 128 pgs, $11.95, what a shameless plug) -- the final, absolute, artistically inspired death of the poet pagan-twig-collector Thomas J. McSheey ... I swear!

PPS: In the spirit of the "occasional-pagan/occasional-Christian" McSheey, I wish all my devoted readers (all 3 of you ... again, an odd, prime number) a Happy Halloween - Hallowmas - All Hallow's Eve - Samhain - All Saint's Day - All Soul's Day. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on