By Chuck Woodbury
I was surprised, no, make that shocked, when I learned just recently that my grandfather, James Ralph Montigel, who died when I was five, had written a book, and it was for sale on Amazon. I, too, have a book on Amazon. In both cases it’s been awhile since they were published (mine in 1991, his in 1912).
Mine is called The Best From Out West, a compilation of my favorite Roadside Journal pieces from my years of roaming the West in an RV producing my “on the road” newspaper. You can buy the book used for between $9.18 and $98.76 on Amazon. There once were dozens of copies for sale, but now there are only a few: maybe it’s finally catching on.
My grandfather’s book is titled “Steam-Curing and Steam Hardening of Concrete Building Tile.” I have a strong suspicion that sales of his book paled in comparison to mine, which were pretty darn bad if you want to know the truth.
Let me just pause here to tell you that there are not too many humiliating experiences worse than being an author of a new book and walking into a bookstore three months after it was published and finding it already on the bargain table. That’s bad, and I speak from experience. At that moment you realize you’re not headed for a Pulitzer.
Anyway. . . back to the two books. I ordered my grandfather’s book even though I am personally not interested in the steam-curing and steam-hardening of concrete building tile. I was hoping to get an idea about his writing skills to see if he might be the source of my writers genes. Well, that didn’t work out, as the book is really a reprint of his senior thesis for a bachelor of science degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Still, I am incredibly happy that my grandfather, who I barely remember, and I are both represented at “the world’s largest bookstore.”
My grandfather went on to own and operate a very successful concrete pipe business in Riverside County, California, at the time the area was growing by leaps and bounds. Much of the concrete pipe still there today is from his company, which is now long gone.
I wish he were still alive: I’d call him right now and say “Hey, Grandpa, let’s go out for a beer and talk about author things.”