Paul Auster’s “Burning Boy” and how you can make $ reading “Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story”

Paul Auster’s “Burning Boy” and how you can make $ reading “Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story”

[Bench in Brighton Town Park where David Kramer stops to listen to scenes on his radio when Stephen Crane’s Henry Fleming from The Red Badge of Courage‘s is lost in the woods. [Photo: Bruce Kay, December 31st, 2021] See Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story]

I’ve long been mesmerized by Stephen Crane, one of the great American writers, author of The Red Badge of Courage, who died at 28, leaving the tantalizing question, what would Crane have written had he lived?

Every five years or so, I listen to Red Badge while biking the canal path. In Chapter VII, the protagonist Henry Fleming has fled from battle into the nearby woods where he discovers a dead soldier:

The Red Badge of Courage from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. 2 [David Kramer’s collection] See Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story] LitCharts says of the scene: “An anonymous, deceased Union soldier whose decomposing body Henry finds in the woods. The dead, decomposing body’s position in a “chapel” of trees implies a profound uncertainty about the promises of religion; could this body, being eaten by ants, really have a soul in heaven? The rotting, ant-strewn corpse also shows that nature is unrelenting. Ultimately, the dead soldier shows that Henry’s hopes for a glorious death are naïve.”

When reaching that passage, I stop in the woods, imagining being Fleming.

Crane plays a central role in my PhD thesis, War, Literature and the Arts published “Strains of Failed Populism in Stephen Crane’s Spanish War Stories”, and I even wrote a screenplay, Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story that asks what would would Crane have written had he lived?

In 1898 — two years before his death — Crane covered the invasion of Cuba for New York newspapers, and later wrote short fiction about the Cuban Campaign. In my version, Crane switches genres from the novel to the motion picture, becoming America’s first great filmmaker when he produces Black and Blue on San Juan Hill, the movie within the movie about Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders’ charge up San Juan Hill.

Far more mesmerized than me with Stephen Crane is Paul Auster who spent two years researching his sprawling and lovingly rendered biography of Crane, Burning Boy (2021), which Auster endows with his ample writerly and readerly gifts.

(left) Burning Boy: The Life and Works of Stephen Crane (2021) by Paul Auster. Cover image is Crane in Athens during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the subject of his Active Service; (right) David Kramer attempting to pose like Crane in Greece.

No doubt Auster read these books. The Wells-Brown Room, Rush Rhees library, the University of Rochester. Just SOME of Crane’s books kept in the stacks. Sad because have to say goodbye to Mr. Crane. For now. 1/22/16 from Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story

Even before my copy arrived, I wanted to interview Auster, but prominent writers like him are hard to contact and usually do media business through publishers and agents.

From the dust jacket of Burning Boy

However, to my real surprise, on the internet I found Auster’s personal email. I emailed the request and also threw out the (unlikely) possibility that he read the screenplay. Not to my surprise, the email bounced back. But, lo and behold, his personal phone number was listed, and I called. Apparently, his wife answered, also seemingly surprised that a fan reached Auster’s home in Brooklyn. She did give me his assistant’s email address.

Alas, the assistant said that Auster has too many commitments to participate in Talker. So, finally, here is proposal.

I am offering to pay readers to read Mr. Crane, $250 or more if more time is needed. Basically, you should know the nuts and bolts of screenplay writing, probably should know a little about the Spanish-American War of 1898 and  and time period, be willing to wiki as needed, be committed to writing a detailed review covering strengths and weakness with suggestions for making the screenplay viable.

If interested, email David Kramer at [email protected]. The email is also on the top of each page.


As seen in the excerpt from Talker featured in Brighton Connections, getting readers for the screenplay is an ongoing problem – even with $ as the bait!

“Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story:” New and Improved

Farewell, Amy Kaplan, author of “Black and Blue on San Juan Hill” and inspiration for Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story

Talker featured in Brighton Connections

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts