Artificial-Soul.net

Writing makes it all better, believe me.

(As told by Nat Hentoff)

I had heard of Ursula Nordstrom – the legendary orchestrator of books for young readers – from a friend of mine, Maurice Sendak. But l never expected to hear from her.

One day in 1964, she called. Would I be interested in writing a children’s book for what was then Harper & Row? I demurred. I would have to make the words short, the ideas simple, and take care not to offend any librarian or parent. I would let this cup pass from me, I told her.

“Write what you want to write,” Ursula said. “Don’t censor yourself.”

The result was Jazz Country, a novel about a white high-school trumpeter trying to break into the black world of jazz. Published in 1965, it’s still being read, judging from letters I get from youngsters, and for reasons that are not clear to me, the book continues to be very popular in