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Thu Jan 30 07:08:21 MST 2003
Oldest American author tells all
After 70 years of writing books, John Sanford has won little fame and
less money, but his commitment to his craft and one great, true love
have kept him going.
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By Mel Fiske
Jan. 30, 2003 | This morning John Sanford will get up and do what he's
done every morning for the past 70 years: write. At 98 (99 in May),
Sanford may be the oldest working writer in the nation. In a literary
climate where novelists in their early 20s make headlines by getting
$500,000 advances on their first books, he has never enjoyed the kind of
success that starry-eyed writing workshop graduates dream about. But he
keeps on writing all the same.
There has been recognition over the decades as well as struggle. Sanford
has been called "The Treasure of Santa Barbara," and there's a coterie
of devoted readers who swear by the lyricism of his prose and his
flashes of insight into American history and affairs.
But it's the author's sheer commitment to his work, not the hunger for
acclaim or money, that keeps him going. Sanford completes a book every
two years or so and then spends more years trying to get his work
published. "My books don't sell," he says, "and publishers want books
that sell, like soap."
Now Sanford has yet another publisher. "A Palace of Silver" is scheduled
for release by Capra Press before March. It will be Sanford's 24th book
and marks his return to Capra, which issued three other of his books
over the years. Capra's new owner, Robert Bason, is thrilled to have him
inaugurate Capra's new beginning.
"A Palace of Silver" is memoir of Sanford's extraordinary life with his
late wife, the screenwriter Marguerite Roberts. It's also a reflective
look back on the Hollywood blacklist that troubled them both, and a true
love story. The book's title comes from a line in the Song of Solomon:
"We will build upon her a palace of silver." Sanford's book is the
palace; his poetic words the silver. His wife, Maggie, is the rock he
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