What writer does not like to go into a bookstore or library and find a copy of their book? It doesn’t get old. And sometimes it leads to sales when someone realizes you’re the author. Last week I walked into my favorite bookstore, Village Books, and checked out their new Local Authors section in it’s improved location, right near the center of the main floor near the checkout counter. I was greeted with this sight. ALL IS SILENCE at eye level. Nice. As I looked closer the books around came into focus. I have a connection to each of those books, spread out over the last 40 years of my life.
Migrant Sun is a collection of poetry by Sedro Woolley poet, Ramón Ledesma. Ramón happens to be the father of a dear friend from high school who I have passed to much time without seeing. My thanks to Facebook for connecting, and reconnecting us. I hope to hear Ramón read some of his poetry one day.
Postcards From The Road is a story collection from Richard Little, who found me recently through Windward High School, where he was being interviewed for our Oral History Project. We spent a nice afternoon having coffee and writerly talk and then he returned to be a panelist for our student’s Community Project Presentations.
The third book Susan Sloan’s biography of Fred Fragner, Yishar Koach: Forward with Strength, The Story of Shoah Survivor Ferdinand Fragner, is a different story in many ways. I didn’t actually recognize at first that it was Fred’s story. You see, about 15 years ago, I think, Fred asked me to write his biography. We met regularly for most of a year, one to two hours. Mostly he talked, and I listened and took notes. We made progress, he shared photocopies of many of the things he had written or had written about him. I was getting a handle on how I wanted to tell the story. I wanted a parallel alternating timeline. His birth and early childhood alternating with his rebirth, his essential reawakening on a road in Germany where armed soldiers had marched the Buchenwald survivors as the Allied armies came near. Then the German’s disappeared and for the first time in a long time, he had choices to make.
Then Fred sort of shut down. There were questions he didn’t want to answer. Some I think he couldn’t remember, but something we got close to was sitting well with him. So we stopped the process. It wasn’t a good fit. We stayed friends and I saw Fred with some regularity over the next few years. When he passed away I attended the service. His life had touched and enriched many, many people. I was sad that we had been unable to finish the project, but comforted myself with the thought that someday I could write a character based on what I knew and suspected about Fred. So it was with some surprise to find Susan’s book. I have a vague recollection that she and may have even talked at one point. I am glad Fred’s story has been told.
It’s still a small world. And Village Books is one of the hubs… I look forward to reading all of these books and wonder who my life and the bookshelves will lead me to or reunite me with over the next 40 years or so…