More than a decade after his death of a heart attack at age 68, Shel Silverstein's career avoids any defining label. Millions of children have anointed him to beloved status thanks to poetry books like Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic , and a visit to the website run in tandem by Shel's estate and his longtime publisher, HarperCollins, might convince you that his work for kids is his primary legacy. Doing so, however, neglects the full spectrum of what made Silverstein tick as an artist. It rubs out the more than 40 years he spent in the bosom of Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire, a veritable court jester at Mansion gatherings when not traveling the world as the magazine's cartoon-capturing foreign correspondent see Shel Silverstein Around the World , a coffee table-style compendium of reports from places like Moscow, Spain, and Fire Island or producing epic poems like "The Perfect High" or "Hamlet As Told on the Street". Sticking only to the school-age side of the road means ignoring his prodigious work as a songwriter Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue"? The Irish Rovers' "Unicorn"? All penned by Shel , his one-act plays for Off-Off Broadway venues which attracted the attention, and later friendship, of David Mamet and a tentative foray into crime fiction that, if not for his premature passing, might have blossomed into something greater. But the most remarkable element of his non-children's-lit career was Silverstein's nine albums worth of songs he recorded—and especially the album's worth of unreleased material that might even surprise fans of Shel's adult side. As a recording artist, Silverstein brought a raspy vocal style not unlike Tom Waits's satanic older cousin that came from his teenage years as a Comiskey Park hot dog vendor.
The Atlantic Crossword
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I bought all of Shel Silverstein's children's books for my son, when he was very young, and read them often for him. He loves the books. So do I. They went from my oldest granddaughter's bookshelf to my youngest and I hope they will stay for their children and grandchildren.
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Many of us fondly remember Shel Silverstein as the voice of our childhoods. Only as an adult did I realize Silverstein was one wacky guy. It makes sense. Well, parents had to read Shel Silverstein, probably gobs of times, to rambunctious kiddies at bedtime. Thanks to this genius man, we adults can re-read the books of our youth… and find some surprisingly messed-up stuff. So if you stick your finger in, He may bite off your nail. Stick it farther up inside, And he may bite your ring off. Stick it all the way, and he May bite the whole darn thing off. Our thoughts: Definitely deters kids from nose-picking!
Shel Silverstein was more than just a quirky, kid-friendly poet with whom we youthfully chuckled while leafing through Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Light in the Attic. No doubt about it, Silverstein was an amazing guy. But he also smoked a metric shit-ton of weed, sang obscenely, engaged in legendary partying often on a houseboat , wrote a lot of fairly bent plays for grown-ups and obviously spent a lot of time thinking, writing and drawing about smut. In fact, some of our readers might remember that Shel Silverstein spent several years as a cartoonist for Playboy Magazine.