Improbable though it may seem, this fantastic story before you - so like strange fiction or someone's mad dream - is true
to the very last word.
Truth IS stranger than fiction. And what could be more singular than the chance
which enabled me, an ordinary scribbler, to uncover the most extraordinary body of writing on the face of the earth?
I had been working on a book about crickets. I often lay all night in the dark listening to as many chirps
as there are stars in the sky. In daylight I followed this cricket or that as he or she jumped here and there. I observed
them closely as they sat motionless. (Crickets do sit still for eternity, and this permitted me to study them carefully.)
I was able to distinguish one from the other by minute physical differences.
But aural differences! To
tell one cricket from another by the sound of his voice - this would be a marvel. And yet the time came when I could do just
that. I had, of course, studied cricket communication and could determine pitch, frequency and rhythm - could even count the
number of teeth scraped by the wings in the various calls. But to think that all this could combine to carry intelligible
information to me! That I could find out the true meaning of those endless and apparently identical sounds! I could understand
the message; I had broken the cricket code! This was a major scientific breakthrough.
was like walking through Alice's looking glass. I stepped inside a mesmeric mirror into a world of... I heard - oh, words,
words, words... Darn words anyway! What words can persuade the reader? OK, I'll say it plain: I befriended a cricket. A communicating
insect - eloquent, lofty, sublime! A poet! Shall I give him a name? Let's call him Jeff Jawser.
Gulliver lie on his back and converse with creatures six inches tall? Yes, and he was able to learn the language of these
tiny Lilliputians. Then perhaps you will not find it difficult to imagine me, a tall, thin male in his early fifties, reclining
on the ground with head propped on one hand, pen placed in the other, and both ears cocked to the chirps of a cricket.
A scientific breakthrough, yes. But equally important, a literary bonanza. For I was privileged to hear a story
unique in all the world. Jawser divulged to me all his fables, legends, histories, adventures, and love stories.
He had them recorded - no doubt about that, for he often spoke of his notebooks. Yet he never let me see them. Together
they must have formed a massive tome.
He thought he would call them The Campers' Merry Tales. But he
was not sure and wanted my opinion. I suggested that this title might be misleading for, funny as some of the stories might
be, others are sober and serious. And anyway, camping hardly takes center stage in the story, though the characters DO camp
out every night.
Well, Jawser next settled on a tongue twister of a title, and would not be moved from
that. These then are The Cricketary Tales of Jeffrey Jawser, translated from the Olde Cricketese by me in Oakland, California