2008: 188. A Boy Named Shel


“When he was five years old, Shel Silverstein taught himself to draw by tracing over the comic strips in the newspaper.”

A Boy Named Shel, Lisa Rogak

I saw this at the library and decided I had to read it for one reason only - I wanted to know if Shel Silverstein was a total freakjob.  When I was a kid we had a tape of him reading his own poems (not sure if it was A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends), and they were insane.  I mean, his work is pretty subversive on its own, but listening to him read it was enough to give you nightmares - or at least expand your consciousness.  And, after reading this totally pedestrian biography, I have decided the answer is kind of.  Shel was a larger than life figure who dabbled successfully in everything from cartooning to children’s writing to songwriting to playwriting and he was the poster child for ADD as well as a lover of women.  But he didn’t drink or do drugs, and when he got two women pregnant he cared for both children (in his way), and he was an amazing creative force.  I don’t know - the biography made me appreciate all he did, but was written in such a matter of fact/high-level way, that it didn’t illuminate much.  Workmanlike is the best I can say - but a character like Uncle Shelby deserved more.


Date/Place Completed: 12/15/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017