This week sees another installment of Jerry Mills’ serial novel My Heart Is Like a Cabbage. I really responded to this chapter; let Jerry know what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org). Jerry has mentioned that he is having some trouble working out the kinks in e-mail service up in Nutrioso, where their cabin was singed by the mammoth Wallow fire--the largest in Arizona history, said to be 95% contained today after burning 840 square miles. So if he’s slow in getting back to you, consider the circumstances.
Three weeks ago Jack Johnston sent a note that he also wrote a novel about his Peace Corps experience! He said, “ For what it's worth, I also wrote a novel (much shorter -- 170 pages) dealing with the same material, which was used as a Master's Thesis in Fine Arts at the University of Maryland 40 or so years ago . I'm currently investigating having the text scanned and made available as a computer file to anyone in our crew who fancies a copy. My problem at the moment is finding someone who can scan the text and produce an editable file instead of a PDF (and doesn't charge an arm and a leg). I should have something in hand well before reunion time.” So we have another novel to look forward to. Great!
And I should mention that Hap Cawood also has published a fine novel called The Miler. I enjoyed it immensely, partially because so much of it paralleled my own experiences growing up in a part of West Virginia very much like Hap’s terrain in Kentucky--including being a runner, dealing with friends and elders unlike myself in many ways, dating a 9th grader when I was entering my senior year of high school--and partially because of the quality of the work itself. Although most of the novel is told from the standpoint of Jeremiah James--the bulk of it during his high school years--Hap occasionally switches the narration to Jeremiah’s younger sister, Sarah. Both of them are perceptive and thoughtful, yet believable and likable, and the differences between what the two are aware of often creates a gentle humor.
There are numerous surprises in Hap’s book, experiments and hidden depth that all seem to work, and belie the familiar surface of a story about growing up in the mountains. It is at once a coming-of-age story, a sports story (with numerous races chronicled as JJ becomes a one-man track team for Harlan), a portrait of a place and a time, and something more: a sensitive exploration of an interior life in all these contexts. Highly recommended.
Now that three of you have come out, who else is out there?!