I might be too busy penning my next novel about Levitation to post regularly here, but I haven't forgotten about my feathered literary muse. In a way, Chorus of the Crows has been wintering. My novel has been on hold while I've been out chopping wood, stapling plastic over the windows, buying one of those wearable sleeping bags and putting up canned goods for one hell of a winter. In other words, I'm doing the hard grunt work of editing. Sigh.
As 2017 sputters out, I'm busy working through my forth edit, (I naively thought I was done after two) and the good news is, now, I have help! I no longer have to wonder if my novel is good or destined for the garbage like used kitty litter. This month, my favorite new mentor (and award winning author) Peter Geye, said its terrific and that's all I need to know to keep editing with a tentative and hopeful straightening of my spine. It takes resolve.
Now, I don't mind churning out edits like a deranged Rumpelstiltskin - in the hopes of getting published by somebody. (the only guarantee is that I'll be rejected by somebody) Peter has been a great mentor - for every slap of the hand there's a pat on the back.
But enough about my novel. Have you read Wintering? It's Peter Geye's third novel - another book like his previous works, Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road. It's immersed in Norwegian immigrant culture and tales of life in Northern Minnesota. I loved it. I wonder if it's because I'm Norwegian?
These are the kind of jokes I grew up with:
Lars asked Ole, "Do ya know da difference between a Norvegian and a canoe?"
"No, I don't," said Ole. "A canoe will sometimes tip," explained Lars.
- Ole went to the Sons of Norway Hall one night and finally won the door prize, which was a toilet brush. He was so excited that he won he brought it home and used it often. Someone asked him during the next meeting what the prize was and if he liked it or not. Ole replied, "Yea I like the toilet brush, but I think I'm gonna go back to using paper."
Ole and Lena got married. On their honeymoon trip they were nearing Minneapolis when Ole put his hand on Lena's knee.
Giggling, Lena said, "Ole, you can go a little farder now if ya vant to"... so Ole drove to Duluth.
I absorbed Ole and Lena jokes at every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering of my childhood. (not including family reunions) Nobody told a joke better than my Aunt Pat. She also baked a mean ham dinner.
But no, I didn't like the book because I'm Norwegian. The characters were familiar, odd (someone was even named Odd) and compelling. Harry, the main character, reminded me of Richard Proenneke - the man who ventured into the wilds of Alaska to build a home for himself and later turned up on PBS during pledge drives. Like Richard, Harry is damn likable and utterly capable. A real man. Plus, survival stories are always interesting. My favorite character, the location, serves as the book's visual heart. I don't have any complaints, just like one of my favorite lines:
"She had the constitution of a hunk of granite."
"Then how did she die?"
P.S. Guess what I'm making on Christmas day?
Lefse. My Aunt Pat might have baked the ham, but my Mom wielded the Lefse paddle.