Ken Harper (1948–2018) was a freelance journalist for the Des Moines Register, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and In These Times. From 1990 to 2018, he was the director of marketing for several large corporations within the computer industry. Harper attended The Iowa Writers Workshop in 1982. His short stories were published in the Kenyon Review and In These Times. His novel, There It Is, and his children’s book, The Spaceman from The Planet Omelet, were published in 2019.
Titles by Ken Harper
Released: June 2023
Genre: NovelsBig Shorty is a humorous coming of age novel full of action and suspense.
It centers on family life in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We follow Winston Saddlesworth from being an 11year old Yankee boy shooting rattlesnakes in the pecan groves of his grandmother’s farm in Florida, back to Chicago where he in high school gets involved with gangsters in order to romance the alluring Camilla. His trespasses costs him a scarred nose and a send off as an enlisted soldier first with a stint in Bolivia to catch Che Guevara, next to Vietnam towards the end of the war where he gets involved with the Phoenix program.
Some magical realism keeps the reader alert throughout the book. The tales are tall and entertaining. Harper’s clever fiction mirrors the strangeness of life.
Winston returns home wounded from the war and suffering from PTSD. It is the group meetings with fellow soldiers and the heart warming no nonsense love of his grandmother that brings him back to life.
There It Is
Released: January 2020
A picaresque novel following a young soldier entering and surviving the Vietnam War
There It Is by Ken Harper is a quintessential American coming-of-age novel in the vein of Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March
Young Farragut Birdwell enlists in the army during the later years of the Vietnam War. He is the black sheep of his family; his dad is a decorated submarine officer from WWII and does not have much confidence in his young son. Farragut’s attempts to fit in are often both humorous and heart-wrenching, from the opening story of how he fakes being a boxer to escape the dreaded cleaning duty as a grunt to his catch-22 escape from joining the 101th Airborne Division when he lands in Vietnam. Farragut is very clever and funny, but at other times he really messes up. But meeting the beautiful Yarel sweetens him.
There It Is is a funny and compelling novel about integrity, survival, and courage.
The Spaceman from the Planet Omelet
Released: July 2019
Genre: Children's books
The Spaceman from the Planet Omelet is a charming character invented by Ken Harper (1948-2018) to entertain his young children and later grandchildren at bedtime or whenever a good story was called for. The spaceman invites the children to accompany him to any destination the children chooses. In this book the shiny, new spaceship zooms off to Antarctica where you meet the Emperor of the emperor penguins and get invited to attend a lesson for baby penguins about global warming. After a missing egg is delivered to the rightful parents it’s time to snuggle up in sleeping bags and watch the fire while the spaceman and the Emperor reminisce about earlier adventures.