Posts Tagged ‘Tender Is the Bite’

SATs and US


January 21st, 2022 Posted 8:08 am

Recently we got an email from a puzzled reader not knowing what the following exchange from Tender Is The Bite (between Bernie and a school janitor) was about. A few pages earlier, when he and Chet crossed the state line, Bernie seemed to be musing about the differences between the two states. And so now:

Hector came back outside. “She runs a little place outside of town.” He handed Bernie a scrap of paper. “One other thing. That possible cop fellow? Might have been a redhead. Hard to tell with the cap and all.”

            “You’re an excellent observer,” Bernie said.

            Hector shrugged. “Had nothing else to do for a spell. Eighteen years, seven months, eight days, to put it in numbers. Took the time to educate myself a little bit.”

            Bernie’s eyes got bright. “Then maybe you can help me,” he said. He cleared his throat. “Arizona is to New Mexico as … “

            “Donald Duck is to Daffy Duck,” Hector said, without the slightest pause. He went inside and got back to mopping the floor.

I wrote back saying remember those SAT analogies? Music : Love :: and then would come 5 choices like River : Thirst and Rice : Take-out … etc. But no! The SAT had no meaning for her. She was Australian! Something else I now need to factor into my work. And now I find out the analogies are no longer part of the test. I remember kind of liking them – wacky fun, a bit like Jeopardy.


Politics and Us


January 13th, 2022 Posted 8:20 am

Has anyone else noticed a perhaps slight deterioration in the political tone in this century? Didn’t Lincoln say “If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend.”? It would be a shame if Lincoln gets forgotten. Tender Is The Bite is the Chet and Bernie novel where politics is center stage, although the tone of the book differs from our current political tone. For one thing, Chet makes an onstage appearance at a political rally. (A recent Amazon reviewer wrote: “This is one of the funniest stories that I have ever read.”)


Sound Poems In A Name (More): Shaky Insterwald


January 8th, 2022 Posted 8:16 am

Here’s golf pro Shaky Insterwald giving Charlie (Bernie’s young son) a lesson in Tender Is The Bite:

We took Charlie to Buckets and Buckets O’Balls, Cheapest Driving Range West of the Mississippi, Come Knock Yourself Out for his very first golf lesson.

“Hold the club like so,” said Shaky Insterwald. “Feet this way. Club head back to right here. Load up your power. Feel your power loading up?

Charlie nodded a vigorous nod.

“How’s your eyes?” Shaky said. “Work pretty good?”

“I think so,” said Charlie.

“See the dimples on the ball?”


“I’m gonna make a red mark on a dimple.” Shaky bent down with a red marker. “With them pretty good eyes of yours you’re gonna watch that dimple and you’re not gonna look up until I say so. Got it?”

Charlie nodded another vigorous nod.

“Now load up, feel the power and knock that son of a – son of a gun to kingdom come.”

Charlie swung. Crack. The ball took off.

“’Kay,” Shaky said. “Look up.”

Charlie looked up.

“There’s your ball,” said Shaky.

He pointed. The ball was surprisingly far away, still rising, straight and true. A lovely look appeared on Charlie’s face, an even lovelier one on Bernie’s.




December 18th, 2021 Posted 7:46 am

There’s been some mention of Griffie – the ferret in Tender Is The Bite, the Chet and Bernie political (sort of) novel. Ferrets and politics? It seemed right to me. Here’s Griffie in action:

“It was stolen. Nice meeting you.” Johnnie Lee took a step back and slammed the door in our faces. Or almost. Bernie has very quick feet, which comes as surprise to a lot of people, and he stuck his foot in the doorway just in time. But then – oh, no – came a surprise on us. Griffie darted down and nipped Bernie’s ankle.

“Ow,” said Bernie, withdrawing his foot. The door closed all the way. Locks thunked into place.

And now I, Chet, was the angry one. A big part of my job was protecting Bernie from the Griffies of this world. I threw myself at the door, making the whole building shake in a very gratifying way, and was gathering myself to do it again when Bernie held up his hand. I didn’t stop, exactly. Let’s just call it a pause.


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