What are you reading?

by chuckofish

11 AMERICAN HOMER

Well, as you know, I finished Lonesome Dove. I will note that at the end of the book when Captain Call is hauling Gus’s body thousands of miles to be buried in Texas, he detours into Colorado and crosses the Picketwire River into the neighborhood of my ancestor John W. Prowers. Call runs into Charles Goodnight and has a conversation with him. (Goodnight was a real-life business partner for awhile of Prowers.) It has been suggested that the character Captain Call is based on Goodnight, who hailed from Macoupin County, IL.

All of which is to say that there is only six degrees of separation between us and (even) fictional characters!

Now I have moved on to several different things.

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First, I finished The Gates Ajar by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, a “spiritualist” novel of the mid-nineteenth century, which daughter #2 recommended and I started in Florida. (I had to order my own copy when I got home!) Immensely popular when it was published in 1868, it appealed to a population exhausted by the personal losses of the Civil War. Eighty thousand copies were sold in America by 1900; 100,000 were sold in England during the same time period. Basically it is a dialogue about the afterlife between the two female protagonists. I enjoyed it very much and found it easy to read (not stilted) and the characters real and easily relatable. The subject matter is one that still appeals to twenty-first-century readers–look at the popularity of Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo in 2010. The Gates Ajar is a much better book, and the author takes great pains to site scripture to back up her theories.

I started re-reading The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler, her second and one of her lesser-known books, published in 1965 when she was only twenty-four. Like all Anne Tyler books, it is deceptively simple and an excellent read (and shorter than most of her other novels).

Next up is The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith and another Larry McMurtry which I got on eBay. I am also working on my Jackson County, Missouri research.

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What are you reading?

FYI today is the birthday (1948) of S.E. Hinton! So “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.”