One day, seated next to each other at his spot at Finnegan’s Wake, Chili said to me, “Hey, you’ve published a book. Can you help me get my stuff together for publication?”
“Sure Chili, I’d love to help you publish your work. What stage is the writing in? How much is typed?”
His craggy eyebrow rose, and he shot a sidelong glance at me, “Typed!?”
I laughed, and told him I could type it up for him, and start formatting stuff. He emailed me a couple of essays, typed of course. Later that year, he died. I wept bitterly for my salty old friend. Now I had to finish the book without him.
Chili Bill’s friend Ken Rich was putting Chili’s affairs in order, cleaning out his apartment, etc., and we got to speaking. I told him about Chili and I’s unfinished conversation, and asked for help. Ken, dear soul that he is, brought me all of Bill’s handwritten coffee-stained notebooks in a plastic grocery bag, and a thumb drive full of documents.
At first it felt like I bit off more than I could chew. About half the material which makes up the book was handwritten when I received it. But it was unique, taking long rambles through Chili’s writerly mind. He has a distinct voice, and tidy grammar; he evidences a lot of affection for language, and for humanity. I feel changed, and I hope the rest of his readers will, too.
Why didn’t I tell anyone sooner that I was working on Chili’s book? I didn’t want to jinx it. I thought that any incidental validation I might receive for talking about this project might have sapped my motivation to actually finish.
It took a couple of years, but here it is! A book of Chili’s writing interspersed with a photographic tour of his lifetime. Goes on sale December 6th! Including links for online purchase for gift season!
Some readers have inquired if there will be a particular organization benefiting from the sale of Chili’s book. The answer is, Yes! Profits from the sale of Chili’s book will be donated, in William Eichinger’s name, to San Francisco’s Raphael House; a family shelter in the Tenderloin for which he took up a collection every Christmas. It was his favored charity, I think, because (as you’ll learn in the book) Chili was an adopted orphan who spent a lot of time moving around with his Mom, with no stable dwelling. In the future, keep an eye on Chili’s Facebook feed to see how much he’s raised, with your help!
Thank you for reading. Reading rules!
To buy a copy online if you can’t make it:
For event information: