Monday, April 13, 2009
My Most Important Review
As soon as copies of my latest book, Counting the Cost, arrived, I signed one in extra large handwriting, packaged it up, and sent it to my ninety-five year old uncle.
Uncle Nate is the last of my mother’s eight siblings alive. I haven’t seen him in at least ten years--about five years after the picture above was taken. Nate is on the left. His brother Emory is on the right, and his sister Gertrude is in the middle.
I sent the book to Uncle Nate because Counting the Cost is full of his family’s history and I wanted to get his blessing.
I didn’t hear back for a long time, and didn’t know how to interpret that silence, but he called me about a week ago and told me that he had finally finished the book. He has macular degeneration and had to depend on his daughter to come and read the book aloud to him. It took about a month to finish it, but he had her record it, and he has a boxful of tapes so he can ‘read’ it again.
Uncle Nate gave my book his blessing. He recognized that the cowboy parts were based on his brother Emory’s experiences, and he grew tender as he spoke of how Emory had been a father figure to him, how he was always square and true. He recognized, too that the hero, Heck, was based on another brother, Curtis, though he called him, ‘that old boy.’ “When I read about that motorcycle,” he said, “I knew how it was gonna’ end.”
The last time Nate saw Curtis was when he, Nate, got on the bus to go to the army. America was gearing up for war, and Curtis wept when he said good bye, fearful that Nate wouldn’t return. Life is full of irony.
The picture below is of Nate, home on leave, holding my brother Ron. Behind him is one of the adobe walls of a building in Las Palomas. If you've read Counting the Cost, you'll recognize the setting.
I’ve been sending out review copies of the book these last few weeks, but somehow, I think I just got the only review that really matters. Uncle Nate loved the book.
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