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Flashbacks: A Memoir By Jim Gibbons

My old friend Gibbons sent me a copy to review for – what else? – the AVA. Jim and I are AVA old-timers, and my first exposure to the paper was in 1988 at his house in Willits. My first letter-to-the-editor was written there, on another new discovery, the Mac Plus, a primitive early computer one now sees in museums or 80's flashbacks in movies.

I first met Gibbons (he's one of those people normally known by their last name, hardly anyone called him Jim) in 1971 at Gate 6, Waldo Point, Sausalito. He had a couple of books of poetry put out by a small press in Milwaukee. I liked his stuff because it was unpretentious, unlike so much self-conscious poetry that one sees.

The book is a compilation of material written between that time, and relatively recent, let's say post-grandchildren. I'd seen a lot of it before, and was relieved to see he didn't include much from his period of writing for sports magazines. Competition running is something we didn't have in common. But Gibbons has lived many different lives, and writes with humor and insight about many of them. The stories are mostly short vignettes from various time periods. It's illustrated, and although the photo quality is disappointing, the black and white drawings are very good. I might call it "bathroom reading," and coming from me that's a compliment. You can open any page and find something good to read. I just opened it at random and read "I'd Rather Have a Bottle In Front of Me," and learned about alcohol, drugs and teen sex in 60's Milwaukee.

Those kids in the flyover zone were having a lot more fun than I was in puritanical New England.

Flashbacks: A Memoir by Jim Gibbons is available on Amazon. Type in his name to bypass a similar title. Mendocino County people will see many familiar names and places, from Gibbons' unique, largely tongue-in-cheek perspective.


  1. Charles S Bonamer November 24, 2017

    I, too, just finished Flashbacks: A Memoir by Jim Gibbons. It was amazing. Look, if you remember the 60’s, you just weren’t there. This is the recall of a generation with all the angst and humor of the time. I get a buzz just reading it.

    This should make it to the best-sellers list. Gibbons is a discovery to an audience of literate/mildly warped people. That’s a big market who could learn a thing or two from a Master.

  2. Jeff Costello Post author | November 25, 2017

    Gibbons tells me it’s “selling like coldcakes.”

  3. Jim Gibbons November 25, 2017

    Thanks for the rave review Chuck, but I’m finding out that people don’t always like reading about themselves, or they’re disappointed I didn’t include them in the book.
    Then there’s those who don’t read books, like an old running buddy who refused my free book!
    The writing was easy, the self-publishing was tough, but plugging it is the real challenge.
    So far I’ve sold tens of tens…meaning just over 20 copies.

  4. William Ray December 1, 2017

    That’s two’s of ten’s.

    Heard there is a reading in Willits, Dec. 16, 2 P.M., Willits Branch of Mendocino County Library.

  5. Cecilia Johansen December 25, 2017

    I’m awaiting Jim’s return to Hawaii Island so he can autograph my book. I grew up in the 50s and 60s in puritanical L.A., and I was still puritanical in the 70s oblivious to the what was going on. But, I had been to all those places he relates to in his book, so I was laughing and crying when he was reading his tales in our writers support group here in Waimea. It is a pleasure knowing him, and I wish him great success in “plugging” it.

    • Jeff Costello Post author | December 27, 2017

      Puritanical L.A.? Obviously you’ve never lived in small-town New England. There are degrees.

  6. Bob Comings December 25, 2017

    Anyone who missed the reading missed a real Mendocino County treat. Jim’s sense of humor filled every moment. You can make up for the missed laughs and insights by ordering your own copy of “Flashbacks.” Well worth every penny. My copy got signed by the author himself. Thanks Jim!!

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