I've written here in the past about my admiration for this gentleman to my left. Actor, author, raconteur, cutting-edge educator (he and his second wife once founded an arts-oriented school where kids were graded for self-expression), stand-up comedian and game show panelist, Orson Bean -- I feel -- has lived an exemplary life. His two works of autobiography, ME AND THE ORGONE and TOO MUCH IS NOT ENOUGH, are amazingly brave and candid works of self-exploration that encompass such matters as his experience in Reichian therapy, the founding of his school, an LSD trip, being stalked by a Satanic cult in Australia, and the failure of his second marriage following a visit to Sandstone (a free sex community) and later experimentation in open matrimony. I should note that the failure of Bean's second marriage was not a failure of the bond between husband and wife; I'm told that Carolyn Bean is still very much a part of Orson's current life with third wife, actress Ally Mills. They all spent last Thanksgiving together.
While visiting Mark Evanier's blog last night, I was surprised and pleased to learn that Orson has written a novel -- his first -- a novella, actually, as the whole thing amounts to less than 125 pages. Originally called MIKEY, it's apparently about spirituality as experienced by people outside of, or alienated by, the Church. Initially, Orson's agent couldn't place the book because Christian publishers found the book too candid (it reportedly includes some profanity and allusions to sexual activity or human sexuality) and mainstream publishers found it too... spiritual. With great largesse, Orson opted to give the book away free online for a short time... until Barricade Press, a publisher in Fort Lee, New Jersey, came forward to express interest in publishing a more polished draft. Now retitled MAIL FOR MIKEY, the book is set to be published in early October 2008.
I haven't read it yet, but I'm betting it's as interesting and as embracing of life and its mysteries as anything else Orson Bean has written.