Back in the pre-Covid era when I used to travel hither and yon doing live stage appearances, during the book-signing after the show, an extraordinary number of persons used to say that their favorite volume of mine was not America Alone or After America but Mark Steyn's Passing Parade. Which pleased me no end: If you don't know it, it's an anthology of my obituaries and appreciations through the years, from Ronald Reagan and the Queen Mum to Ray Charles and the guy who invented Cool Whip.
So, as a weekend bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, welcome to a brand new audio adaptation of the book - a new weekly feature here at SteynOnline, every Saturday. We start today with my musings on the art of the obit, followed by some thoughts at Calvin Coolidge's grave site, and then the story of Stuart Hamblen and our mortal body as "this ole house":
'This time, I was wandering way up in the mountains and came across this dilapidated cabin.' He was hunting in the high Sierras and had noticed a mangy, starving old hound dog hanging around an otherwise abandoned cabin. 'Inside, I found an old prospector lying dead. I saw curtains, so that meant a woman had been there. I saw kids' things lyin' around. And they were all gone now. The old man was alone.' Most of us would just get out, some perhaps would go to the cops, but Hamblen sat down and, with the corpse lying next to him for inspiration, began to rough out a song...
To hear the first installment of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
I hope you'll enjoy this non-fiction audio anthology drawn from the great miscellany of the cemetery, but, if a year of lockdown, looting and 'lections have left you pining for lighter fare, we have plenty of escapist capers for you, including Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, and P G Wodehouse's Psmith, Journalist - oh, and a certain other fellow's The Prisoner of Windsor. Tales for Our Time in all its variety is a welcome detox from the madness of the hour: three-and-a-half years' worth of my audio adaptations of classic fiction starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club over three-and-a-half years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus a couple of pieces of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming such ventures are ever again permitted, and sometimes with special guests.
Steyn Club membership is not for everyone, but if you're looking for a present for a fan of classic fiction or video poetry or audio obituaries, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly, such as Thursday's;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events, such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show, assuming such events are ever again lawful;
~Priority booking for the next Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming we're ever again allowed to hold such a thing;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world, assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to Mark Steyn's Passing Parade but to the four-dozen yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if Steyn reading Steyn is like a living death for you, feel free to have at it. And do join us next weekend for Part Two of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade.