Having thoroughly enjoyed the novel which spawned the short film screened at MPAC in March, I dropped it off at the Roy and Helen Hall Memorial Library yesterday evening. They are working with lightning speed up there. I expected it would be several days before it would show up in their system, should they decide to put it into circulation. I checked this morning though and there it was. It is in the system, being catalogued.
If you have ever lived in a small town (and I mean small), you will love this book. If you have ever lived in a small Texas town, you will be obligated to buy copies for friends and family who also lived in that small town. About half-way through, I knew I’d be getting a copy for my mother. About three-quarters of the way through, I thought about getting a copy for my hometown’s high school library. My only concern is that the portrayals are so real, they may not get some of the humor.
The only book I can think of to compare it to is Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Though the plots bear little comparison, the writing styles are somewhat similar. The main character is quiet, unassuming and has a high degree of moral character… a strength and a methodical, unhurried nature that keeps him apart from the bustle of the society immediately around him. Character development is above par. The plot is good, if not dramatically complex. But that’s the spectrum, isn’t it? If we put character development at one end (Dickens, Hardy, etc) and an active plot on the other end (e.g. Dan Brown, Tim Lahaye), I would put this book about midway, a little more towards character development than active plot. To me, that’s a compliment. Unless you’re Melville, you kind of want to hit the middle of the spectrum. I will remember this story and the characters in it.
Dallas production company Blue Logic currently holds the option to produce a movie based on this novel. They screened a 15 minute “sneak peek” at the McKinney Performing Arts Center at the end of March which I was fortunate to attend. In their film, Balaam was played by Wilbur Penn, an African American man who I thought favored Danny Glover. It really was perfect casting. As I read the book, I kept the picture of the Mr. Penn in my mind’s cast and I really enjoyed the character that much more. Maybe I’ve just seen Lethal Weapon too many times. (I did a quick Internet search and found these shots on the Blue Logic Facebook page.)
I hope that Blue Logic does follow up with making a film from this book. In their short film, they used the McKinney Performing Arts Center for the Town Hall scenes. That was why the screening took place here in McKinney. I really appreciate them finding us here and introducing me to this book.
I hope that others now enjoy the novel too.
And to Mr. Nichols, about the town of Willoughby, I hope that you have more where that came from. You have got a good thing going there.
Until next time,