Monday, August 3, 2015

On the Road with Albert

Oh how I wish that everyone who loves books and reading could have me life!  Really, days are filled with interesting, chatty customers, happy people who tell me about all the books I "must" read.  I add those titles to my list and actually read some of them.  Sometimes it takes years, but I try.  Then there are the ARCs - the Advance Reader Copies that come in the mail - sometimes in a package of a singe book, but more often in a box with many inviting titles.  They pile up nicely.  Waiting.  I try to match them up with the perfect reader. Post it notes come in handy when ear-marking an ARC for a particular customer who I know might like the book.   I ask you, how can life be bad when you get a treasure like the one above?  

Here's the info from the back of the ARC since I haven't read the book yet and wouldn't be good at pretending I have.....

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickman (father of the author) were classmates in the West Virginia cornfields,** (see note at bottom) graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen, (yes, that Buddy Ebsen).  But when Buddy headed to New York, Elsie's dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the cornfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner's wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in only the bathroom of their house.  When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: "Me or that alligator!" After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do" Carry Albert Home.

What fun. The newlyweds traveled 1000 miles to return the alligator.  What's curious to me is that the sell sheet says everyone knows this story.  It's new to me and probably new to many of you as well. The first page photos of the main characters include Homer, the younger and the elder, Elsie, and Albert.  There is also a rooster with this parenthetical disclaimer (Whose presence on the journey is not entirely understood).

So now I am faced with a dilemma.  Do I read this book which promises a "sweet and tragic tale" or do I stick to the plan and read Compulsion?  Years ago I read this true crime novel based on the infamous Leopld and Loeb murder case that changed the course of American justice, and I have seen the movie several times. As a Philosophy minor, I was attracted to the story of two socially awkward college boys obsessed with Nietzsche's concept of the super human. That Philosophy minor, by the way, did little other than provide me the auspicious privilege of wearing a toga and declaring "I think".  But dang it, the book was re-released a while back and finally worked its way to the top of the pile.  So which will it be...alligator tripping or a tragic attempt to commit the perfect crime? 

**Oh and YES, the editor who wrote the blurb for the back of the book actually said they went to school in a cornfield!