Monday, September 28, 2015

Red Moon Revenge and Walt Again

Last week's pre-blood red moon madness culminated with a visit from a customer who shared some defiant words with me.  Having time to chat and get to know customers and their tastes is one of the perks of being a small indie in a neighborhood rather than existing in Manty's bustling 8th street mecca!.  Eventually, she boldly pointed out two books amid the many offerings we have on display.   First, she called my attention to a shirtless mermaid on a book cover, "That's inappropriate".   She followed that by vigorously tapping the cover of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a long respected Penguin edition of the book with a naked Frank, seen from the side, curled in a fetal position - "And that is inappropriate."

  Up to that point, my conversation with Sister Mary Inappropriate had been civil without a trace of judgement or hint of unpleasantness.  But when the Puritancal criticism surfaced, it took my by surprise.  Did I mention that SMI is all of nine years old!  No more fancy moons for a while, please.

Oh, one more little tidbit.  It didn't take long for one our our younger customers to discover the piano.  Two or three time a week she gives me call to say she is working on a new vocal - usually something by Whitney Houston -and would like to practice it as I play.  So far she hasn't noticed that my playing is not so good, but when she does, I'll let you know how that goes.

Now.  Longmire.  For years former Manitowoc resident/friend/novelist/guest blogger, Steve, pushed me to give Craig Johnson books a try.  I resisted.  Westerns?  Not for me.  Steve wrote blog posts.  He sent info from Johnson's website.  He copied and pasted words from email blasts sent by Johnson (or his publicist) making it seem as if the Longmire author was writing directly to me.  None of that worked.  But when I discovered the A&E series based on the books, things changed.  The characters pulled me at first, and the plots were good.  As I developed into a dedicated watcher, it seemed clear that an hour TV show could not do justice to this complex character and so I tried book one in the Longmire series.  To be honest, it was OK.  I passed it on to another Longmire TV fan in my book group.  She and I have similar taste and when she gave it a thumbs I figured I must have rushed through it.

So now, since the Longmire series is only available on Netflix streaming, I find myself working my way through yet another Craig Johnson book.  Thumbs up this time.   With books I generally drawn to style first, characters second and plot third.  If the style doesn't wok for me, I rush, I skim, I walk away.  In this case, all three component work for me. Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear and Vic form the triumvirate that keeps the plot moving and  the long, eloquent narrative passages mesmerize.  These aren't shoot 'em up westerns or cowboys vs Indians.  These stories are anchored by conflicts more mental and spiritual that physical. Magically,  Johnson allows me to feel the long silences that characterize Walt's skill of saying the most he can in the least number of words along with Henry Standing Bear's the wisdom born of pain.  Vic - she's the Everyperson  - she is us.  

A Craig Johnson book once a year sounds reasonable - and manageable unlike my plan to read a Dickens novel and a Shakespeare play each year.  And then there was the years of Hemingway that wasn't.

If you plan to pick up a Craig Johnson book let me make this suggestion.  Wait for a snow storm.  A day when you can't escape.  Open a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's bourbon and take advantage of the long, quiet hours with Walt and the diverse citizens of Asaroka, Wyoming.

Up next...If Walls Could Talk ...the history of a home