"It's summer 1974 on an island off the coast of Connecticut, and all Jack Smith wants is a vacation like he enjoyed in his youth:
swimming, sailing and sunshine.
But Jack finds his summer plans quickly spiraling out of control.
His estranged wife follows him to the island looking for money.
The priest and constable are conspiring his ruin.
And the local Lolita is intent upon seducing him.
Jack suddenly has more problems than he can handle, and he deals with them the only way he knows how:
with rum and romance, all leading to a calamitous Fourth of July in Kevin Dowd's hilarious first novel."
"The Fourth of July
reminded me of such gin-soaked comic classics as A Confederacy of
Dunces and The Ginger Man. Dowd's hero, Jack Smith, joins the rank of
those lovable rogues, a man who spends his summer tippling into all
sorts of trouble with only the best intentions. I laughed out loud."
-Rand Richards Cooper, author The Last To Go.
"It only takes a minor event—that one extra drink, a nosy
neighbor rapping on the front door, an alienated spouse's unexpected
entrance—to spark the collapse of a relaxing summer
escape... And thats what makes The Fourth of July enjoyable: the
constant feeling that we're experiencing a long lost Saturday
afternoon matinee designed to provide a few laughs and a couple hours
of zany diversion."
-Benjamin Woodward, Rain Taxi Review of Books
"Were this a film, the parts would be played by Chevy Chase and
Catherine O'Hara. Jack returns to the island for the holiday weekend
in 1974 (think Mungo Jerry, no cell phones, no texting, no Internet)
to nurse the psychic wounds of middle age, little suspecting that all
hell would soon break loose."
-Alan Bisbort, Hartford Advocate
The printing of The Fourth of July was funded through a
The production effort came from Roundabout Press, an extra-curricular
created by a part-time professor at Western Connecticut State University
and some of his MFA students.
Initially, there was quite a bit of excitement for the book
and it garnered some favorable reviews.
But the momentum has slowed now and the press has gotten quieter.
Roundabout did quite well under the circumstances;
a start-up doesn't have distribution or promotion capabilities of an
Thanks to everyone who supported the book.
30 years! At last! Released! UNATRON!
(April 2013) I wrote Unatron in 1982-83.
I prepared it, complete with documentation, and
put it up for sale in a small advertisement in Hot Coco,
a magazine dedicated to the Radio Shack Color Computer.
The problem was that I put the wrong town name on the mailing address.
I had the correct postal code.
It was sort of forgiveable; I'd just moved into the area.
As soon as I realized the error, I ran down to the post office.
The clerk assured me that it wouldn't make a difference, but it did, apparently.
There were plenty of inquiries, but no orders. That was 30 years ago.
The game sat unplayed.
This past year, someone associated with a Color Computer group contacted me.
I joined their mailing list.
Thirty years later: people still writing code and trading tips.
And there was a contest.
The results were to be announced at the "Last" annual CoCo Fest in
the midwest, April 2013.
So, I entered my thirty year-old game. And! I won an award.
Kudos and thank-yous to the modern-day afficianados of the Radio Shack Color Computer!
Portions copyright © 2012, Kevin Dowd
Better Late Than Never, Right?
The book sat on the counter where I left it.
One of the library women was at the far end of the counter berating
a little girl that had too many overdue books, saying that she'd
have to bring some back if she wanted to take any more.
I wanted to interject: "Don't pay it! Just wait it out!"
This book was late.
It was just under 39 years late.
I returned it to the West Hartford Library in April.
"Are you serious?" the women at the counter asked me.
They flipped it open looking for a barcode.
"Um, there were no barcodes, then."
Good thing, too.
At a nickel a day, I would've owed them $770.
I left the library, and then considered
that I should at least get a picture of the book to
support the story.
20 Years for High Performance Computing
Charles Severance of the University of Michigan
had been using it for course material.
He stepped up to craft the second edition.
He did a fantastic job, and the book got legs for another... well,
it still has legs.
You can find it on syllabi even today.
(January, 2013) The first edition of High Performance
Computing was released by O'Reilly and Associates
20 years ago, this month.
It was a big deal for me to write this book, and
I was delighted at how celebrated it became.
By 1998, High Performance Computing was starting to age,
and O'Reilly took the book out of print.
Here's a copy of second edition, now released under Creative Commons.
This copy is sourced from
I found this shirt on the beach
This is a picture of me (headphones) taken from the
Helsingen Sanomat in 1982, when I
was a nuclear engineer for Combustion Engineering.
I was at the
power plant in Loviisa working on a project for the
OECD to see if artificial intelligence/human
factors safety systems could help a power plant operator
during an emergency.
I might be wearing your shirt.
That's it in the picture.
I found it at the hole-in-the wall beach in Niantic,
washed up in the seaweed.
It took many launderings.
Maybe you'd be happy to know it got to see Finland.
Dan Pope and I get together to play music when we can.
Usually, he arrives at my house at about 11 PM.
We drink a few beers and play until about 2:30.
One night, we were looking for something on Amazon and came across a
song that had a single line in it: "Can I buy you a drink?"
We thought it would be interesting to mimic.
At this point, we're up to thirty or so "pick-up" line songs,
each recorded according to the following rule: We have to
come up with some music and record it one night.
If you let them be background music,
it's quite a funky thang.
This is an audio stream of a subset of the collection.
If you'd like a CD (or ISO image), or you'd like to play with us, write me
at "contact @ kevindowd.com". We're in West Hartford.
A few more originals hanging around: