|"Trinity" from Fulghum's online gallery of his artwork|
I really enjoyed Fulghum's early books of essays like All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and another collection of essays, It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It.
I lost track of Fulghum after the first four books, but he has published eight best-selling books.
All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, still sells well. He has 16+ million copies of his books in print, in 27 languages, in 103 countries and it seems like it has given him the freedom to live and write wherever and whatever he wants.
So, why was his first novel, Third Wish, only published in the Czech Republic (in Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian)? Certainly, there must have been publisher interest in it. That's an interesting little tale, told by Fulghum on his website.
It all started with the request of my Czech editor and friend, Evá Slamová, the editor-in-chief of Argo Publishing. She knew I was working on a novel. She asked if she could take a look at the manuscript of Parts 1 and 2.
Much to my surprise, she announced that she wanted to publish the novel forthwith, despite knowing that more than half of the book was still to be written. Argo had produced translations of all my previous books, and sales in the Czech Republic had been strong. Having them publish the novel first seemed like a fine idea, but, from my point of view, risky for them. When it came time to discuss a contract, I wrote down one sentence: “Publish it well, and if you make any money, send me some.” The president of Argo, Milan Gelnar, laughed and shook hands. Done. Later I received a framed Czech koruna encircled with the calligraphed words of our contract. They kept their word. Published it well. Made some money. And sent me some. A remarkable business relationship built on trust. The people of Argo have become dear to my heart.
I was first attracted to the novel by that Czech connection. My grandparents on my father's side are from there. So, I went to Fulghum's website and started to read things like his self-interview.
What is this first novel all about?
In fairy tales, the third wish is the last one left when the first wish was foolish, and the second wish was used to undo the first wish. It is the wish that really must be used wisely.
Third Wish begins like an ancient tale - at a table on a terrace on the Greek Island of Crete (where it seems Fulghum himself sits). Then it passes through Greece, Japan, France, England, and Seattle and back to Greece.
The book has been described in many different ways. It mixes cultural history, art, philosophy, archeology, poetry, theater and music. It has also been described as a "love story" of people who love life and will go to great lengths to find the Way.
It is described as "a classic quest novel" and a "rich parable for our times." It is compared to works by Lewis Carroll, Milan Kundera, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
It is being sold as a boxed set of 2 illustrated paperback volumes with an accompanying CD musical soundtrack. I am a notoriously slow and easily distracted reader who always has too many books started at the same time, but I did love the audio editions of his earlier books, so...
Robert Fulghum has four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in Seattle, Washington, Moab, Utah, and on the Greek island of Crete.