It is really cold this morning. You might ask, “How cold is it?” To which I answer, “Twelve degrees on my front deck.” It will not get above freezing all day today, so that means I will be hauling buckets of hot water out several times to melt the ice in the horse trough. I know that is routine for all you farmer-type folks in the north, but here in Texas we like our water wet.
Yesterday I took the day off from the computer and that sure felt good. Since I did not do a book review, I thought I would tell you about the book I just finished reading, A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale. (It’s part of the reason I was offline. I had a hard time putting it down once I reached a certain point.)
The story is narrated by Stanley Mitchel Jr., who is 13 in 1958. His parents own the drive-in in Dewmont, Texas where Stanley finds an old tin box with love letters by the burned ruins of an old house at the edge of the drive-in. Stanley, who still believes in Santa Claus at the beginning of the story, does a lot of growing up that summer as he decides to investigate the deaths of two young women some years previous, while also learning about the struggle between good and evil that can touch everyone. He sees first-hand the evil in his best friend’s father and the man who stalks Rosy, the cook, and the rich man who thinks he can buy his way out of trouble.
This was an engaging read, and some of the elements I liked most were the bits of wisdom and truth that Buster, the old black man who worked the projection machine, passes on to Stanley. Throughout the story, Stanley learns about racism and how people abuse power and religion to satisfy their needs and justify behaviors..
Joe Lansdale is a prolific writer with quite a wide range of books from horror, to steampunk, mystery, and science fiction, and he definitely defies the advice given to most writers, “Find a genre and stick to it.” I had the pleasure of being on a panel with him at a small conference in East Texas where he spoke about writing stories. I remember he said something like, “I don’t think of a genre when I sit down to write. I just let the story become what it needs to become.”
Or something like that. (smile) I have not read all of his books, as I am not a fan of dark horror, but I’ve enjoyed many of the others, especially The Bottoms, which was the first book of his I read.
For something else different from my normal Monday’s Musings, I thought I would share a bit of a scene I wrote earlier this morning. I’m slowly getting back to writing and some days are better than others. This is from Desperate Season, which will be the third book in the Season’s Series should I ever get it finished. (smile)
In this scene, Angel is at her parent’s house where she is confronted with her father’s bigotry again, and takes a stand.
“Too bad you never did get that transfer back a year or so ago,” Gilbert said. “Get partnered up with one of your own kind.”
“I never put in for a transfer.”
Gilbert looked like he’d been sucker punched. “But it was decided.”
“No Daddy. You decided. Not me.”
“You’re still my daughter and you will do as—”
“Stop right there and listen because this is the last time I want to have this kind of talk with you, Daddy. If that means I’ve got to stay away, then so be it. But I refuse to accept your orders or your racist attitude.”
Frances gasped. “Now honey.”
“No, Mama,” Angel patted her mother’s hand. “I hate to say it, but I mean it. All his life Daddy has hated white folks and that hate has been like a chain keeping him trapped. And he tries to wrap that chain around us.”
“Are you aware of—”
“Yes, Daddy. I am aware of the history. I am aware of the injustice. I am aware that there are lots of white folks who rue the day the first slave was brought here and black skin was introduced to white. But I am also aware that we have to stop looking at every thing in life through glasses tinted with racism.”
Now, since my fingers are freezing and it is so hard to type with gloves on, I will go make a pot of hot tea and get warm. Join me? I’ll share the biscuits.