Alan Weber has been writing since he was five. In his late teens and early twenties, he was focused on two genres: political essays and poetry. For the former, he wrote a rather scandalous full-page column for his college newspaper. As to the latter, he began doing poetry readings around the Greenwich Village area of New York and had a few of his poems published in various collections.
Having earned a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education, he began a career in the field, moving from teacher to administrator to teacher educator, spanning the last forty years. During that time he continued to write with constancy; he can’t help himself. But most of his writing was now directed toward his field: articles and letters in newspapers, materials for his college students, etc. His poetry became more infrequent, and there just wasn’t enough time or energy to continue “being a writer.” He was, however, ultimately successful in gaining a little notoriety for “The Misdirection of Modern American Education,” an article published in the prestigious Education Digest in the Spring of 2014.
By the time the article was published, Alan was semi-retired, continuing to teach one college class a semester, but, otherwise, focused finally on becoming “a writer who teaches” rather than “a teacher who writes.” He needed to test himself to see if he had the self-discipline and skill to write an actual book. He had started sort of a memoir three decades prior, but hadn’t gotten very far, and any thoughts of picking it up again were quickly dismissed once the demands of college teaching took over, and, perhaps, the realization that he hadn’t yet lived enough to write about set in.
But in 2013 he published Integrating the Chapters of a Life, albeit under a pseudonym, Allen Roth (in an homage to Woody Allen and Philip Roth, whose spirit and style he thought it most embodied), so that impressionable and nosy students might not discover more about him than he cared to share. The book was never really expected to be a commercial success. It was more that it had to be done before he was free to explore other avenues for his writing, although it did receive some very positive reviews, and does showcase some of the range and depth, humor and flair of his writing. Now, with time on his hands and more confidence that he could be an actual author, Alan began to think about his next project.
He had many ideas, but one soon emerged from the lot. As a lifelong anti-war activist as well as child advocate, he had wanted to write something for children on the difficult subject of war. And as someone who had taught children’s literature, he had become aware that although previous attempts had been made, notably even by Dr. Seuss, they were essentially too allegorical, thereby too abstract, for children’s true connection and comprehension. So, taking a more experiential approach, shortly after the publication of his first book, he wrote the text for Not for Hurting. After finally finding an illustrator, the first book under his own name was published a year after his initial one.
Ideas and urges battled for his attention. While he believed himself a writer of some talent, he didn’t trust that he had either the ability or the following as yet to write a really good novel with anything short of a big idea. As he was trying to market Not for Hurting, that idea came to him in the form of The Wedge. He had always wanted to write allegory, perhaps something in the realm of science fiction, his favorite reading genre. But lacking the necessary scientific knowledge to write anything beyond “cowboy” fantasy, he fell back on politics, his undergraduate major and such a defining aspect of his adult life. He had never dabbled in fiction before, in dialogue or character development, but he found what he felt was his truest writer’s voice and greatest creative fulfillment in the process of writing the novel. And he was really proud of the finished product. Unfortunately, less than a year after publication, the Donald Trump phenomenon came along and essentially stole the book’s central themes. So now the book, described by one reader as “prescient,” will be seen as just a typical critique. It is truly sad that people didn’t read the book before electing this nightmare.
It took a while for Alan to come up with another “big idea,” but eventually another one came to him, one whose catalyst was more personal, his son. “The Matter of Mind” wrapped itself up short of novel length, a novella which further challenged his creativity and desire for growth. He now had one work written in the second person, one in the third, and one in the first. A year later, he wrote what would become a companion piece, “The Force of Will,” and he would publish them together as a single book, Miens of Existence.” As of this writing, he considers “The Matter of Mind,” in particular, to be his best written work.
Soon after publishing Miens of Existence, Alan returned to an idea that had been brewing for some time. As a teacher and then a teacher educator, he had been continually frustrated with the way so many schools handled the period between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in relation to Indigenous peoples. Disgusted with the stereotypes, the marginalization and the misinformation that remained so prevalent, he had sought resources to at least provide some balance, but found such sorely missing. He tried reaching out to a few Indigenous groups, but came to realize that if somebody was going to write something, as a Professor of children’s literature, a writer who had already published one children’s book, a political activist, and someone who had long felt both a connection and a responsibility to Indigenous communities, particularly the Shinnecock on Long Island, whose PowWows he attended almost religiously, he was as qualified to do so as any non-Native. After writing the text, he had the great fortune of finding an illustrator on the internet, Erica Arndts, who has gone on to become a world renowned artist/muralist. Together, they created What Kimi Discovered, a picture book about a young girl who discovers that knowledge of self and of others is the heart of learning. This book has met with some modest success. It is being used as part of the social studies curriculum of Alan’s home school district, as well as several others, and has received endorsements from representatives of several Indigenous tribes, artists and organizations.
Alan had always sprinkled humor into his writings, but now took on the challenge of writing a novel of pure humor (or poor humor, depending upon perspective). A comedian once said something to the effect that as one advances in years humor almost necessarily becomes Jewish, and so it did in The Mensch. Covering three generations of Blueschwitzes, it’s, ultimately, the story of Stewie and his journey to become the first Jewish superhero. As the Covid epidemic hit, being busy and focusing on humor became usefully therapeutic. The release date for The Mensch is February 14, 2023, exactly one month from this update. While awaiting its publication and energized by his participation in a Writers’ Group local to his new home in Woodstock, Alan dabbled in horror, writing “Or Face the Consequences,” a short story that you can read on this website. And now, Alan has already begun work on what he hopes to become a seventh book, and, always challenging himself to work in a different genre, this one, tentatively titled A House Divided, is allegorical political-science-fiction. Stay tuned for new developments.