On this tape Spencer Holst reads his baseball story "The Institute for the Foul Ball," which is his longest work. He considers it his best writing. Holst's father was a baseball writer for Detroit for thirty years and often took Spencer with him into the dugout and pressbox. The picture of Spencer Holst and Detroit Tigers first baseman Harry "Stinky" Davis was taken in 1931, when Spencer was five.
Spencer Holst is a writer and is also known for telling his stories. (Allen Ginsberg called him "an old Indian Aboriginal storyteller"). Holst is famous for the many readings he gives both of his own and other artists' work. He says: "The most heightened sense of reality that I have ever felt has been at certain times when i am reading to an audience. Whether that person is in my living room or is a thousand miles away listening to those words on a radio--it is the same--I am at the right place doing the right thing at the right time. Everything else, it is like a dream.
"I came to New York at 16. From Toledo. My great-grandfather founded a paper in Ohio (The Western Avalanche), and my grandmother and father were newspaper columnists in the Midwest, but I ran away to be a poet. I fancied myself a poet until I was 23. Then I started writing and telling stories… I never try to express myself one whit--I sometimes come into the story as the author, but I never mean me. Good writing is selfless. I have no particular aim except to tell a story… I'm a first line writer, i follow where it goes."
Spencer Holst has many admirers among the avant garde--people who follow and praise his work. John Cage was moved to write:
were written by Playing
the author is a magiciaN, what that means is
a stoRy --
you can know it by Heart --
you saw him dO it --
but you stiLl can't figure it out,
and the typewriter he uSes is
jusT an ordinary typewriter.
"The Institute for the Foul Ball" is included in "Spencer Holst Stories:" Horizon Press (NYC, 1976); Berkley Windhover Books (NYC, 1977). This collection won the 1977 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American Academy and Institute for the Arts and Letters.Two
collections of Spencer Holst's stories are available in print: An earlier collection, "The Language of Cats and Other Stories": McCall (NYC, 1971); Avon Books (NYC, 1973) is also available.