The reviews for The Old Buzzard Had It Coming are starting to come out. Thus far I’ve seen the Library Journal review and the Kirkus review. Every time a new review comes to my attention, I’ll post it on the “Books” page of this site. Both the reviews I’ve seen have been good, which is gratifying. Will there be less than flattering reviews? One can only wait and see. Will I post them, if there are? It depends on how self-confident I’m feeling and how good my sense of humor is at the time.
One thing I’ve noticed about readers and reviewers is that often what they say about your work tells you as much about them as it does about your book. (To date, I’ve learned that my reviewers have good taste). Very often I discover that readers see something in my characters or story that I didn’t have in my mind at all when I wrote it. I’m always interested, enlightened, and often bemused by what readers find in the things I write.
For instance, what does Alafair look like? All I said in TOB is that she has uncooperative dark hair and dark eyes. Yet one reader described her to me as looking like Ma Joad and another as resembling Sigournie Weaver. Quite a range.
And are the Tuckers poor? Actually, for the time and place, the Tuckers are fairly well off. If they lived in the same situation today, they’d be considered next to destitute.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean that the reader’s interpretation is wrong. Once the author’s story leaves her hands, it becomes the reader’s story.
December 16th, 2006
Dear Donis Casey;
Were your Tuckers have any kin to Terre Haute Mayor Ralph Tucker the 1956 Democrat nominee for Indiana’s governor? A real handsome dude was Ralph who might look more becoming alongside Signourie Weaver than Ma Jode but knowing what an egalitarian he professed to be Mayor Tucker would have been as courteous to the latter as the former. In that era Terre Haute was notorious as a railroad town full of gambling and prostitution with Mayor Tucker as its custodian. Hoosiers did not elect Mayor Tucker on the coattails of the Ike-Nixon reelection landslide but chose state senator Harold Handley from LaPorte.
LaPorte’s Kingsbury Wildlife Refuge is now the geographical center of the Big Ten Collegiate Conference as it moved east from Cedar Lake in Indiana’s Lake County with the addition of Penn State University in Pennsylvania’s Centre County. PSU is America’s second oldest land grant college. The nearest big collegiate football stadium to this conference’s geographical center is Notre Dame Stadium on Juniper Road in Saint Joseph County Indiana’s Clay Township. Kingsbury was a ordnance depot during World War Two because the cloud cover and inland distance kept it safe from nazi bomber attacks plus a spur to nearby major railroads enabled the ammunition to be transported to seaports.
In 1958 Gov. Handley was the GOP nominee to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Robert Steele, a Republican of Bedford, but lost to Democrat Vance Hartke from Evansville who was an attorney representing railroad workers unions. Sen. Hartke served three terms until being defeated in 1976 by Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar who was President Nixon’s favorite mayor because he annexed all of Marion County with unigov which neutralized the Democrat Party with white flight suburbs. Today Indianapolis is a vibrant showplace resembling a Latin American capitol where the provinces are bled dry so that lotsa concrete can be poured where it will be noticed.
The Crossroads of America did have two Democrat senators, Vance Hartke and Birch E. Bayh II from Shirkieville at the Illiana stateline in Vigo County near Terre Haute, from 1963 to 1977 which was a burr in the butt for many Hoosiers who professed to loathe Washington DC unless it was the source of a farm subsidy.
Was Ma Joad born homely or did a hard life make her that way? My mother’s family had a Ukrainian term for such homeliness and it was “beedny nis chosna”. It was an indictment as much for the woman’s husband as for herself since his lack of prosperity did not allow her to remain as pretty as on their wedding day. Mrs. Mike Ditka is not beedy nis chosna. In 1960 I saw Mike play as a Pittsburgh Panther in Notre Dame Stadium. He then went on to play for the Chicago Bears in Wrigley Field.
As evr, Terry DeShone in Elkhart Indiana