Ralph wrote:I love Chicago and visit once a year. Even a confirmed Gothamite likes the feel of a small town occasionally.
Much as we enjoy Chicago nowadays, Denise & I remember our roots in small-town Illinois. This weekend we're in our hometown of Coal City: population 3000, not counting livestock, dogs and stray cats. It's like Mayberry with Midwest accents. Denise promotes her books all over the US, but always visits Coal City after each new release. Saturday she autographed about 300 copies of Murder of a Smart Cookie at a local store. That's 10% of the population, so it's small wonder her events attract the biggest crowds in Coal City since the skating rink burned down in 1973.
Denise Swanson: Personal Appearances 2005: Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York and North Carolina
The big city and the small town don't quite understand each other's millieux, but somehow we bridge them both. Denise's publisher, Penguin Putnam of New York, doubted her Scumble River Mystery series in the rural Midwest would have a readership, but now they give Denise a lot of leeway because her books have probably sold a million copies. Two weeks ago they sponsored Denise at the American Library Association Annual Convention at McCormick Place in Chicago. She autographed books by the carton, and they didn't want her to leave because they had groups of eager buyers from almost everywhere. "Dave! Quick! How do you say 'thank you' in French? in Russian? in Croatian? in Japanese?" It's amazing how many big-city readers -- from New York, Los Angeles and yes Chicago -- love her books too. Maybe they just want a vicarious release from the rat race to an idealized but slighty out-of-kilter small-town Illinois. We just checked her numbers on Barnes & Noble, and her book is now No. 85 out of who-knows-how-many million. That's terrific, in the top 1/1000th of a percent, but all these promotions are another reason I don't have much time to compose lately. Oh well, it's a good problem to have.
Barnes & Noble: Denise Swanson: Murder of a Smart Cookie: A Scumble River Mystery
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookse ... 5842&itm=1
Sometimes we pinch ourselves, because we're small-town kids at heart, and yet we move in big city circles with relative ease. Maybe it's not so surprising. The ratios of rubes and sophisticates seem the same everywhere. The bell curve is constant, as are the percentages of ding-a-lings. However the big cities have critical masses of sophisticates who can support large-scale cultural activities.
Yet it was growing up in teeny-tiny Coal City that I learned to love fine music, due to my uncle who lived in Europe for 2 decades ("Wow, another box of Deutsche Grammophon LPs!"), and due to an enthusiastic high school band director ("If you don't See Sharp, you'll Be Flat!"). My small-town roots help preserve my sense of amused wonder. Like the year I had an engineering project in Berlin and the doggone Wall fell! Or later simply walking in Paris, Sydney, Buenos Aires etc., and chatting with the locals in their languages. "How on Earth did someone like me ever get here? Shouldn't I be back at home with Andy, Opie and Aunt Bea?"
Maybe the raw materials are less important than what we do with them. Whatever we're doing right, I hope we keep it up.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to some R & R, watching the corn grow, before we return to Chicago. Which reminds me of the time a field of popcorn caught fire, and half the county had to be treated for shell shock.
Personal Assistant and Der Webmeister to author Denise Swanson
~ Scumble River Mysteries ~
Book 7: Murder of a Smart Cookie, July 2005
Penguin Putnam ~ Signet, New York, New York
David Stybr, Engineer and Composer: It's Left Brain vs. Right Brain: best 2 falls out of 3
Coordinator, Classical Music SIG (Special Interest Group) of American Mensa