“I was born of Italian immigrants, one of a set of twins my mother hadn’t planned for. The birth notices read, “Selgin Boy A” and “Selgin Boy B.” I was Boy B. Six months later, my papa quit his job with the Washington Bureau of Standards to become a freelance inventor.
“He moved us to Bethel, Connecticut, the former hat factory town that’s the model for the setting of A BOY’S GUIDE TO OUTER SPACE, an hour north of New York City. There, in a laboratory converted from an old barn, my father hatched his inventions, instruments that did all sorts of things, from measuring the thickness of shoe soles to matching the colors of false and real teeth.
“Among my father’s inventions is my surname Selgin, a reshuffling of the Italian original: ‘Senegaglia.’ My father was very proud of the name. ‘Like the watchmaker,’ he would tell people, ‘but with an S.’
“Unlike my mother, whose accent was as thick and pungent as a Genoa salami, my father spoke perfect English with a mid-Atlantic accent. He belonged to a club for geniuses called Mensa. At one of their picnics, we watched two other geniuses argue over whether a can of baked beans placed unopened on the barbeque grill would explode. The argument ended in an explosion of scalding beans. “Idiots,” said my father.
“Like my papa, I too am an inventor, though my inventions only work on paper.”
* * *
Peter Selgin is the author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction. He has published two novels, two essay collections, three books on the craft of writing, and several children’s books. Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist’s Memoir, was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize. Another memoir, The Inventors, won the 2017 Housatonic Book Award. His latest novel, Duplicity, won both the 2021 Best Indie Book Award and the 2021 Indie Excellence Book Award and was a finalist for the Bridge Translation Award. His plays have been published and produced nationally. A God in the House, his full-length drama inspired by Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine, won the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference Award and the Mill Mountain Theater Award.
Peter is also a visual artist whose paintings and illustrations have been featured in The New Yorker, Forbes, Gourmet, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. His book cover designs grace the covers of award-winning books. He teaches creative writing and graphic design at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia.
Regal House Publishing is proud to bring you A Boy’s Guide to Outer Space in the fall of 2024.