At age 16, I received my first literary award. At 17, I turned down Harvard to attend the University of Colorado. At 21, I rejected the dullest profession on the planet, actuarial science, for the second-dullest, accounting. At 70 I stood at a podium in the heart and soul of Wall Street and rang the bell that opens the New York Stock Exchange.
I earned my nickname, Grizzly, by surviving a marauding bear attack in the backcountry of Yellowstone Park.
I’ve had fewer jobs than each of my four children. My government service includes two years (drafted) in the U.S. Army, and a summer working for the US Forest Service out of a tent camp in the Idaho wilderness. For someone whose passions connect mostly to the natural environment, I’ve had an unlikely professional career. During many years as a Denver CPA, I was also a Director or Trustee for twelve organizations, including the Nature Conservancy of Colorado
Now deurbanized and living in Steamboat Springs, I follow less trod paths – writing, cross country skiing, hiking forest trails, and climbing high mountains (Colorado’s 14ers and Scotland’s Munros) with my wife and muse, artist Bonnie McGee. She carries the survival kit. On my saner days I go fly fishing with our golden retriever, Cholla. She carries the net.
With my first book I got lucky. A McGraw-Hill editor seeking a fresh voice with a unique and compelling story, found me. SLIM TO NONE, a Journey through the Wasteland of Anorexia Treatment became a Denver Post best seller and a Colorado Book of the Year nominee. Some of my short fiction has also been published, and my writing has received awards in local, regional, national and international literary competitions.
Also a Denver Post best seller, my debut novel CHARLIE’S PRIDE features a modern-day Last Mohican and his unyielding devotion to a river. It received an award in a national novel manuscript competition where the reviewer compared it to Norman Maclean’s classic, A River Runs Through It.
Released in April 2018, my new novel, “At the Altars of Money”, stages an intriguing moral dilemma when four principal characters plan a crime of compassion, steal $2.7 billion from wealthy investors, and give it away to worthy causes. They’re guided by a modern-day Robin Hood. Should society judge him (or her) a criminal or a hero? Does it? Edged with satire, the book blends keen minds with romantic hearts and intrepid souls and features many scenes of Colorado’s wildest places as seen from its highest places, the Fourteeners.
From At the Altars of Money
Arthur gaveled the table. “Let’s get back to the agenda and be serious. We’re sitting here planning a crime we’re not going to commit for another four or five years. Now that’s the ultimate premeditation. I don’t know about you two, but I still have a problem, a genuine moral dilemma. The investors we’re gonna rob haven’t done anything wrong, and—”
“Remember, Arthur,” Fran interrupted, “to many people the possession of wealth is an outrageous form of social injustice, and it creates a presumption of greed, also a presumption of power improperly exercised for personal benefit to the detriment of others.”
“That doesn’t make it right for us to rob the wealthy.”
“Arthur, also remember you started us off with metaphors. Was it wrong for Robin Hood to rob the rich and give to the poor?”
“C’mon, Fran. Robin Hood was a fictional character.”
Fran wiggled a finger in his face. “Now, Aw-w-wthuh, don’t we often draw on fiction for our most compelling figures, our most revered role models?”
“Hell, I don’t know. I never thought about it. I hope you’re not saying I should read the book.”
“No, Arthur, I’m not. I know about your rejection phobia when faced with reading recommendations. But, without demanding biased answers from authors, doesn’t fiction direct us to important questions for our time?”
Arthur shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. “Goddam, I can’t believe this. So now we’re gonna take direction from fiction and present ourselves as Robin Hood and his merry men?”
Fran shook her head vehemently. “We won’t have to. Enterprising journalists are sure to do just that for us.”
Arthur sulked. “That still doesn’t make it right.”
“We’re not talking about what’s right. We’re talking about taking advantage of a one-time opportunity created by unique circumstances to make a difference in other people’s lives. And we can do it without inflicting significant damage on the wealthy folks whose profits we’ll confiscate to accomplish our objective. It’ll be a painless plunder. As usual, Ham has a brilliant plan, impeccably conceived. His goal is lofty, worthy, and achievable. Now we have to work our butts off to make it happen.”
Here’s a quote from Slim to None:
I should’ve died when I was supposed to, when Dr. Steiner said I would — four months ago after I quit eating. I was in a safe place where I could hear meadowlarks sing after a spring rain, like at home when I was little. I could’ve died peacefully with my family around me. I should’ve. But I didn’t.
And here’s a quote from Charlie’s Pride:
“Someday, will we learn how to save our wild fish?” The boy asks.
“Perhaps.” And then his father shakes his head. “But I don’t think so. First the white man will have to overcome his need for another kill and his urge to exploit the riches found in our mountains, streams and forests. And it’s not in a white man’s nature to deny greed for such a simple thing as a fish.”