Bumbastories Weekend Magazine

This month’s Bumbastories Weekend MagazineIMG_1107 returns to haunt delight us once again with the following features and articles.

An As I Sat on the Bus Poem

A Book Review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird

A Sports Report, with words of wisdom about the Los Angeles Clippers

An unauthorized Advertisement



As I sat on the bus I wrote. The Muse of Sweet Poetry had struck me again. Poetry? Whatever it was, it had to be brief, because the darn #720 bus was bumping and thumping so much that it was hard to write anything legibly. I needed to write something concise, something endearing. Yes, endearing. Such was my intent.

An Ode to the 720

Bouncing along

Racing through that open stretch past Beverly Hills

Through the golf course

Clanking Careening

Clunking up Wilshire

To Westwood

Shaking us to our bones.

Can’t be beat



(Warning: Writers like to take this kind of stuff seriously)

Ahh, the Great American Novel: The novel that captures the spirit and tells the story of America. Ahh, the Great American Novel….According to Word Smith, the compulsively alliterating narrator of Philip Roth’s fine novel titled, that’s right, The Great American Novel, the entire world is still waiting for the great American novel to be written. In his backhanded way Roth himself shoots for the Great American Novel crown, the GAN as Word Smith liked to call it. Most fittingly, the story is about the great American game of baseball, quite an admirable effort by Roth. All the same, Melville’s Moby Dick is generally considered the G.A.N. Winesberg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson is also mentioned. I think of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as a GAN. Surely a minimum requirement for any GAN is that it be American. American in subject, American in values and tone.

Which brings me around to nominating Kurt Vonnegut’s “Jailbird” as a GAN. Last week I re-read Jailbird……images-1It’s a book about modern (1979) America: a farce, a satire, a scathing criticism, but somehow a friendly nod to the U.S. of A and to all of us. Vonnegut always aims to entertain, to give us a good chuckle. However, he is thoroughly political, even pedantic at times. He is up on a soapbox, or is it a vaudeville stage? Vonnegut entertains, he teaches us history, he wants to tell us what’s what, to set us straight – and to share a good laugh besides. Vonnegut, native of the great state of Indiana, was an American sort of genius. SteJ of Book to the Future who reviewed Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 two weeks ago, prompted me to pick Jailbird off the library shelf, so thanks to SteJ. The book is a gem. The GAN? Maybe, maybe not. As Kurt would say, “Toodle-loo”.



The Clippers have lost. It was not an easy one for us Clippers fans to watch, the way they folded at the end and did not advance to the division finals (once again!). But never you mind. We Clippers fans are used to it. We can take it. Next season is next season. Life goes on. Wait til next year!



For info on One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles One Life as well as The Phantom Speaks sequel, and Up in the Bronx by Stephen Baum check out the Bumba Books page.


13 thoughts on “Bumbastories Weekend Magazine

  1. What about ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’? Excuse me if I’m off-base (an americanism if I ever wrote one) but I’m English. It made me ask to myself what might be the Great English Novel (GEN). Any suggestions? You know, I’ve never read UTC. Must do. It is rumoured to have started the American Civil War.

    1. I never read UTC either. Walt Whitman’ s Leaves of Grass, written during Civil War, is a shining GAN candidate.
      The English have Shakespeare and Chaucer. Dickens’ novels would be GEN worthy.

  2. Regarding Vonnegut… it’s worth looking at this short movie of him explaining how to write a story:

  3. Nice to discover my Subaru was born in the same state as Vonnegut! That explains a lot! Love the 720 poem although the Metro bus I take the most is the 733.

    1. Explain this: why are colored cars – not to mention cinnamon – so rare in recent years? The cars are black, white, gray.

  4. I am so out of it. I haven’t thought of Vonnegut for years. I need to make more time to read the pile of books already waiting in line. Where does my day go? Fun post as always. Loved the poem, Stephen. Bus riders in SoCal get my vote for being good stewards!

  5. Did you know that Ramblin Jack Elliot was called Ramblin Jack not because of his travels, but because of his loquaciousness? I don’t think you ramble, tho. Don’t worry. And you did cause me to pick up Vonnegut again. Vonnegut’s books tend to merge into one saga, what with Kilgore Trout and the other running characters and stories.

  6. My office is piling up with half read, mean-to-read books, and I’m writing a few myself. It’s like Autumn Leaves in here. And now you’ve made me want to catch up with Vonnegut. And I’m reading your e-book, One Life/The Lives of Chester Knowles, which I haven’t finished, but is quite something, Stephen. What a story, and told with such aplomb. Chester Knowles is dead – or is he? And in how many ways is he alive or dead? Find out for yourselves, Bumba Stories followers. I, for one, am hooked.

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