The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Let's keep American literature
out of cage fighting

By Ned Hickson

Like a lot of syndicated columnists, I get hundreds of e-mails every week. And just because, unlike other columnists, most of mine involve some type of male enhancement product, it doesn't mean I'm not occasionally inspired to do more than press the "delete" button so many times I develop a blister.

Such is the case with David Harris-Gershon.

David, who lives in Washington, DC., recently contacted me about a unique item he is auctioning off at


Before everyone jumps online, creating a massive Internet shutdown inadvertently raising the terrorist threat level to "Sea Foam," I'll save many of you valuable time by clarifying what David is not auctioning off:

1) An opportunity to purchase advertising space across his forehead, back, recently-shaved head, or buttocks.

2) Tupperware containing a hermetically preserved slice of raisin toast baring the likeness of an individual known for brief, mysterious public sightings, such as Jesus, Elvis or Dick Cheney.

3) Anything related to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

For those still interested, the two of you should know that David's auction item is more valuable than any of those things. That's because he is offering something no one else (without unfettered access to free pharmaceutical samples) can offer you: Total, unsubstantiated optimism.

...That your $100,000 investment toward his Masters degree in creative writing will usher in the next great literary voice;

...That your philanthropic gesture will make a difference in the life of a struggling writer;
And perhaps most importantly,

...That your 20 percent share in David's future earnings as a writer will make you -- his sole shareholder -- filthy, stinking rich.

Before we continue, there are a couple of things you should know about David:

1) He is an excellent writer.


2) He earns his living as a cage fighter.

OK, not really. He's actually a schoolteacher. But I think we can all agree the line between these two occupations is very thin. The difference, of course, is that he would make a lot more money as a cage fighter, even one with a name like "Language Hammer," whose unique fighting style included shaking hands, then immediately curling into a fetal position around his Thesaurus while shouting descriptive, one-word insults from between his tightly-clenched thighs. I can tell you after exchanging e-mails with him and visiting his website, David would never be a cage fighter. That's because, in addition to being a man of principle who loves his family too much to sacrifice his integrity, he doesn't really have the thighs to withstand that kind of punishment.

What he does have is a natural gift for writing about life in a way that is simultaneously personal and universal. His story Sense of Direction, which was published in the Colorado Review, is a touching and witty journey through his family's past, set in the context of getting lost with his wife while re-visiting his home town of Marietta, GA. It's a wonderfully told and insightful piece that had particular relevance for me since, as many of you know, I get lost on a regular basis.

As a University of Georgia graduate with an English degree, David has supported his family for the last seven years by doing the unthinkable: Attempting to educate teenagers. He would now like to pursue his Masters degree in creative writing full time and become a unique voice in American literature. And by that I don't mean the voice that has to keep telling students to stop drawing body parts on their textbooks.

Being a family man with a second child on the way, David came up with the idea of holding an auction as a way to avoid strapping his family with a large debt. The minimum bid amount of $100,000 covers his tuition -- with the winner receiving 20 percent of his future earnings as a writer.

Even if you don't have enough to cover the minimum bid amount, visit his website and cheer him on. If you DO have $100,000 to help cultivate a great literary voice, enter a bid.

If nothing else, it'll be worth it just to keep "Language Hammer" out of the ring.

You can write to Ned Hickson at:

or at
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.

Ned Hickson