Category Archives: Or So It Seems

Tales Of The Book Part Thirteen

By Paul Steven Stone

Reviewed by Manson Solomon

If the title of Paul Steven Stone’s novel doesn’t tell us that we are about to enter a world in which we are not quite sure what is real, the blind elephant tapping his way across the cover confirms it: something different is about to happen in these pages. The old Hindu legend of the blind men each feeling a different part of the elephant and coming to different conclusions as to what they are confronting is well known, but when it is the elephant itself which is portrayed as blind and groping its way through the world, what’s up with that?

Stone’s view of the world as it might appear through the eyes of a blind elephant will not surprise those already familiar with his wry sense of humor portrayed in his collection of pieces assembled in How to Train A Rock. Serious stuff masquerading as burlesque, Mark Twain meets Philip Roth meets Saul Bellow meets Paul Steven Stone. The hilarity begins very early on with the protagonist being dragged towards a ratty couch by his determined would-be seducer, who, we later discover, turns out to be his nine-year old son’s schoolteacher. Whom he discovered at a bizarre singles dance which he finds himself attending after his disorienting divorce. And then there is the hilarious encounter with the gold-digging single mother whom he picks up at the scouts’ pinewood derby — where his creative effort to fashion a car from a wooden block – painted pink! — results in embarrassment for him and his son. Yes, it’s funny, but it’s also serious, since behind the humor the protagonist’s escapades constitute an existential exploration, a quest to find solid reality – what is — behind the illusion of appearances — what seems — and to restore dignity to his life after a debilitating divorce.

Sound like Bellow’s Moses Herzog with a sense of humor, Roth’s Alexander Portnoy without the hysteria? Well, perhaps so, since where Bellow tried to restore his hero’s emotional equilibrium via intellectual scribblings, and Roth paraded his overwrought Freudian ejaculations for help, Stone gives us an ongoing dialog conducted with The Bapucharya, a giggling videotape Hindu guru. Ah, the elephant, the Hindu god Ganesh seeking reality beyond the facade of illusion! But, being Stone, the dialog is laced with wry humor, parody, irony, is never didactic, always offbeat, amusing. How is this possible? Well, you’ll have to read it yourself to find out and to have your sight restored. And if you don’t make it all the way to Enlightenment, at the very least you will be wholeheartedly entertained while engaged in the quest.

Manson’s review struck me as particularly perceptive, especially as it places the book into direct comparisons between the works of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. Very interesting, I thought, and well worth sharing. So here we are. Sharing.

My Affair With Tiger

Face it, girls, you want to claw my eyes out, don’t you? Or whack me across my 36 DD’s with a golf club, am I right? Well don’t blame me if I’m young, gorgeous, full-breasted and obviously the cat’s meow. And don’t expect me to go after my favorite Top Cat by giving the media any of the tittle-tattle behind our torrid love match. There’s no ‘best three out of four’ here, girls. I am and always will be the best. Just ask Tiger.

Oh that’s right, Tiger isn’t talking. Except for that little phone message someone leaked to the rag mags. The one where he asked me to re-record my phone greeting so it’s a little more anonymous and a little less…well, sexy. Just in case his wife calls.

What’s wrong with a message where I state my name, hair color and unadulterated preference for billionaire celebrities? “C’mon, lighten up,” I told Tiger. “Besides, as far as your wife knows, it could be Hugh Hefner calling me, or some other rich celebrity; maybe even Brad Pitt.” You girls must have read in Intruder Magazine how he and Angelina are occupying separate bedrooms these days, whatever slim solace that provides poor Jennifer Anniston.

I always liked Jen better anyway.

But as far as Tiger and I go, we are soul mates, no question about it. Otherwise, why would I be the first girlfriend he calls whenever he’s in Boston and has an open hour to spare? Yes, I know, girls. An hour may not seem like much to you, but with Tiger and me it’s always been quality rather than quantity. Or, if I can be crude, length of rope rather than length of time, if you know what I mean.

Doesn’t God always seem to give bigger portions to those who have everything! Or is the word ‘proportions’? I’ll have to ask Tiger next time he’s in town.

Anyway, unlike some of you kiss-and-tell queens, I’m not saying a word about my affair with Tiger. Except to say, in my neck of the jungle, once we learn to hunt tigers, we then learn to be good little pussies. Gr-r-r-rr!

The Universe According To Paul Peterson

In the following excerpt from “Or So It Seems”, a novel that recognizes life as a damn funny spiritual adventure, Paul Peterson expounds on the mechanics of Karma as seen through the eyes of the Seekers For Truth and, most especially, their leader and guru, The Bapucharya.


For some reason that seems to only make sense to Hindu holy men the universe was constructed with Automatic Universal Misunderstanding (AUM) as a core element in its composition. We are purposely led to believe that the physical world we see around us is the real world, the entire world, the only world in which we live and die. And if some entity called God exists He is probably hiding on another planet or at least in the clouds, only coming down for special occasions like the six days He spent creating the world.

We have been led to believe by our parents, teachers and scoutmasters, who have all been fooled before us, that what we see is what we can expect. Except perhaps for a late-inning visit to heaven for those fortunate enough to donate a lot of money to their churches.

But that is not how the universe works according to The Seekers For Truth. In their universe we are all witnesses to a gigantic shared illusion constructed out of vibrations and fancy dreams—and please do not ask me whose dreams.

In this universe, according to Seeker doctrine, we have each agreed to live in this illusory world and pretend it is real. Then to make the whole thing even more incredible we have agreed to forget that we ever agreed to play this game in the first place!

For The Seekers it is like we are all staring at the same movie screen believing it to be life in its entirety. As if we decided to disremember everything else in the world except for what we see up on the screen.

So having forgotten we are merely watching a movie we live out our lives paying off the obligations and debts we owe from previous lives which, by the rules of the game, we have also forgotten. At the same time other individuals are paying off debts and obligations to us from lives they do not remember either. While all of this is happening nobody seems to be consciously aware of any of it!

No wonder everyone looks at you as if you were crazy when you offer even the thinnest glimpse of the cosmos as seen through the eyes of The Seekers For Truth.

“Tell me that again? I have lived many lifetimes and you have lived many lifetimes but neither of us remembers any of them? And during some of those lifetimes I have done things to you that make you do things to me and neither of us remembers that either? And the main thing we are supposed to do while playing this game of pretend is to discover that we are playing the game?”

It is virtually impossible to comprehend the mechanics of the universe as seen through the eyes and spiritual teachings of The Seekers For Truth.

If you do not agree, then explain to me how an individual can have the freedom to respond to events whose outcomes are determined in advance? That is like being able to win a tennis match whose final score is already fixed against you.

“You must have faith,” The Bapucharya has said over and over. “There would be no reason to keep traveling up your Path of Seeking Truth if you already possessed the truth you are seeking. You are on the Path Of Seeking Truth specifically because this grand prize of all grand prizes has not yet been given to you.

“Stick your nose out, children, take a big whiff—ohmigoodness! Can you smell it? Of course you can. It is the scent of fresh cut grass, is it not! You do not need to see with your eyes or hold with your hands the fallen blades of grass to know they are all around you. Just the same you do not need to have this oh-so-elusive thing we call the truth in your hungry little grasp to know that it, too, is real.”

Tales Of The Book Part Eight


Tenneshaw, WI—Thousands of journeyers crowd this town’s small village square every afternoon at 2:44 where a natural phenomenon has turned into a daily spiritual event.

Two weeks ago, it was first noticed that the sun, positioned at this point in its day’s passage, sent a beam shining through the window at the HiRiser Bookstore which coalesced through the rippled thickness of the glass and fell on a book cover in a form reminiscent of the Madonna and Child.

The book cover it fell upon was called “How To Train A Rock” by Paul Steven Stone, a collection of Short Insights and Fiction Flights. Up until then, a book that had succeeded in remaining anonymous, undiscovered and unknown.

The first day of the phenomenon the Madonna and Child sunburst was noticed by a few passers by and mentioned in the Tenneshaw News ‘Around Town’ section. On the second day, there was such a large, mostly out of control, crowd that three people were crushed to death. Fortunately, two of the dead were brought back to life by being held against the bookstore window facing “How to Train A Rock”, the first of many recorded miracle cures.

From then on there were numerous tales of miraculous healings—cancers shriveled to nothing, broken backs made whole and straight, cripples dancing in the street, lepers with skin so clear teenagers would be envious. And, one or two resurrections of political careers, it was also rumored.

But then, not surprisingly, time moved on. And, as any astronomy student could tell you, the sun’s passage changes slightly everyday. So there should be little surprise that the quasi-religious effect of the light breaking through the glass at the critically precise moment of 2:44 PM would eventually cycle itself out of existence. And so it did. So that yesterday, two weeks- two days after the Madonna and Child first appeared, they were gone.

Today, a smaller crowd, maybe 15-25 hopeful souls, showed up and hung around the bookstore window where “How To Train A Rock” sits patiently waiting for someone to pick it up and take it home. They stare down at the book and wonder whether any of the Madonna and Child’s healing properties might have melted into the pages of this undiscovered jewel of a book filled with humor, wisdom and unexpected points of view?

“Nah!” the elder of the group decides, eventually leading the rest of the assembly away. “And besides,” he says, asking no one in particular, “how would Paul Steven Stone even know how to train a rock?”

Can Paul Steven Stone Speak Spanish?

No Way, Jose! But for some strange reason I recently found myself on a Boston Hispanic cable TV show titled, “Fernando’s Hideaway”. Here the lovely Maricela Marrero acts as my guide and translator. Enjoy, amigos!

If you’d like to see the second half of the interview, check out ‘Paul On “Fernando’s Hideaway” Part 2’ on