Discover more from The New American Diaspora
Linda's Old Crow Critique!!!
I approached the front entrance to the Clackamas Book Exchange to check in with the proprietor, Linda, and see if she needed additional copies of The Old Crow Book Club. She had previously agreed to display them on the front counter and sell or give away the books as she saw fit. All proceeds went to the shop or the various homeless men and women who often came around for the free books Linda provided. I was also carrying a box of quality books to donate to keep the shop prospering.
Right before entering, I saw The Old Crow Book Club displayed in the front window and priced at 75 cents! What the hell? I laughed. I'd never had a book of mine priced at 75 cents and I liked the way it looked because it was so beautifully absurd. I also liked that Old Crow was displayed next to a copy of Tom Wolfe's collection of New Journalism, The Purple Decade. One wonders what the New Journalists wold have done with the homeless crisis in America. Did I unwittingly channel their first person reportage style in Old Crow? I hadn't considered it when writing the stories up, but maybe there was something to a possible influence. I was certainly participating in the story, one of the hallmarks of New Journalism.
75 CENTS! How in the world had Linda arrived at that amount? I wasn't even going to ask! 75 cents is a lot cooler than a buck!
I entered the shop and it was sort of bustling. Linda saw me and threw out an excited HELLO. It truly is a joy to be greeted like that. People should do it more often.
I placed the box on the counter and explained their purpose. She said she has only had a few of the Old Crows left. I ran out to the car and got five more. I returned to the shop and handed them over. Linda said she wanted to pay me for the copies she'd sold. NO WAY! I told her to spend the money on the homeless as she saw fit. She agreed. She said she was thrilled to help with my project.
There was a pause, and Linda said, “Would you mind a little critique of the book?”
WHAT? YES! A CRITIC! LET ME HAVE IT!
“It read at the beginning like a textbook,” she said.
WHAT??????????? A TEXTBOOK! SHE'D LET MET HAVE IT!
I laughed and asked her to explain.
“It felt like you were teaching me at the beginning, and I almost stopped,” she said.
“I suppose I had to use a lot of journalism to get it going. That is my nature as a writer, and I was a teacher,” I said.
“But I got back to it, and I loved it! I want to meet Mark.”
I informed Linda that since the book had been released Mark had suffered two heart attacks, nearly died, and then was released back on the streets.”
“This government is so fucked up!” said Linda, lowering her voice.
We discussed the book a bit longer and the frustration I experienced trying to get Mark into housing last summer.
“Maybe I was trying to teach you,” I said. “Is that a bad thing?”
“Hell no! You did teach me and I'm saying that as a compliment now!”
Linda does tend to speak in exclamation points and I love that about anyone I meet. More exclamation points! Less w h a t e v e r...
“You must have been a helluva high school teacher,” said Linda.
“I had a good run,” I said.
It was time to go.
“You keep going for it,” said Linda.
“I will. And bless you Linda, Lord Calvert blesses you.”
Oh that broke her up! I damn near skipped out of the store. Twenty feet away, three homeless men pushing grocery carts full of cans and possessions were angling toward the shop. They were probably on their way for free literature and to retrieve some valuables Linda often lets them store overnight in the shop.
More Lindas in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Please consider purchasing a copy of The Old Crow Book Club through nestuccaspitpress.com and/or supporting my effort to distribute the books through homeless vendors.)