How to Play a Blue Guitar: A Manifesto

On a lark I picked up my book How to Play a Blue Guitar yesterday morning and realized (again) that it’s a subversive little book in disguise. Maybe I should have called it Son (or Daughter) of Refuse to be Afraid, because it is a gentle nudge to live a kinder, gentler, more fearless life.

In between the short stories, and even threading through those stories, are a call to stand up against the emerging dictatorship of The Ones Who Think We’re Theirs, who would crush the individual under an avalanche of collective fear.

I had a notion to rename it or at least change the subtitle from the innocuous “Stories, Poems & Reflections” to “A Manifesto” or something that cries out “peace, love, fear not.” Instead I decided to leave the book in its disguise, to let it be quietly found by those who need it — and of course to occasionally point the way like this.

Blue Guitar is packaged like a record album. There are no references anywhere to my other books, there’s a track list on the back cover, nothing but music between the covers. I think it works.

Published impulsively in the early weeks of the 2020 house arrest, it has more of me in it than I realized at the time, from my short stories and flash fiction to my various manifestos — the sudden “I defy you” in “Today is the Day,” the above-linked “The Ones Who Think We’re Theirs,” the Tenets of Common Wealth — it’s a little book that says, Look here, this is me, I am this guy, try this out for size.

Renaming it How to Play a Blue Guitar: A Manifesto would change nothing about the inside but proclaim itself dangerous. Nah, I think I’ll let it be.

P.S. If How to Play a Blue Guitar is a two-record set, then Full is my triple album, or three albums released in the same package. But that’s a thought for another day.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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