Monday, July 19, 2010
I've had this book, which I believe was a promo copy I received working at Borders, for more than 16 years. I can tell by the price scrawled inside the front cover that I once considered selling it unread. That would have been a shame, because it's a fine little collection of stories, built upon Maxwell's reminiscences about his childhood and his home town of Lincoln, Illinois.
I like Maxwell's voice because he comes from a time when horse-drawn carriages were the prime mode of transport, and made it far into the space shuttle age; and yet he's no relic. He talks Twain-like of the confounded complexities of folks, and he seems puzzled, surprised, and regretful to find himself near death with so many unresolved questions hanging around.
The stories center sometimes around race, and sometimes around interesting characters from Maxwell's family. Often the stories are propelled by the fact Maxwell will never be able to understand the things he experienced as a child, and there's no one left alive for him to ask about those things.
I like the fact that he admits to trying to put himself to sleep by touring old houses in his mind. I do the exact same thing. It doesn't work.