Gardner and I were at a Christmas party at a neighbor’s house; I think it was 1998. Someone told a joke and that led to another, and then somehow it segued into titles of “The World’s Slimmest Volumes.”
A charming English lady friend with a wonderful laugh delivered the line, “Negroes I’ve Enjoyed Talking with While Yachting.” Everyone chuckled.
Rwanda had been very much in the news at that time, the dreadful daily massacre of thousands, and Gardner was so disturbed by the events that he was moved to write something about it. That line at the party resonated with him, and the idea began to germinate. Gardner had never been to Rwanda, so he did most of his research through the local library and made contact with the Rwandan embassy and their consulate to verify certain details concerning events and the country.
Since 1995, Gardner had been writing short stories for his weekly radio program called “Stories on the Wind,” which aired Sunday evenings on Hawaii Public Radio. When he began working on this book, he decided to read an abridged version of The Kinsman in weekly episodes, and it was well received. The book, as it is here, was completed in 1999.
I am eternally grateful to Don Davidson and his crew at The Peninsula Press on Cape Cod. Without their encouragement and guidance over the past two years, this book would not be published today. Don is the person who has made this possible by proofreading, advising and organizing the details to deliver Gardner’s ideas. And while I’m sure Don will do every- thing in his power to see that this observation never makes it to print, his humor and self-deprecation and love of words are so congruent with Gardner’s that his appearance at this juncture is nothing short of providential. This book is dedicated to him.
June 10, 2011