I recently finished the third (and most likely final) book in my Fanfare for a Hometown series. The book is titled, Perfect in Memory: A Son’s Tribute to His Mother, and chronicles the last four days of Mom’s life. The theme is not as heavy-hearted as it may sound. Much like Books One and Two, Perfect in Memory is a mixture of humor, nostalgia, happiness, and sadness. Best of all, it allows me to drift back once again to my hometown of DeGraff, Ohio, and to revisit carefully pocketed memories of people, places, and things. Perfect in Memory is scheduled for release on September 1, 2016.
Although my writing approach for each book has been similar, there are subtle differences among the three in regards to style, syntax, and structure. Let me explain. Side-Yard Superhero: Life Lessons from an Unlikely Hero, the first book, is written by Rickie. Rickie’s view of his universe (DeGraff) is innocent and uncomplicated. He sees the world through Norman Rockwell-like eyes—life is pure and innocent.
The book’s story arc involves Rickie’s friendship with Bernie Jones, a young man afflicted with very severe cerebral palsy. The friendship is based upon non-judgmental and unconditional respect for someone who is different. Very little in the book is nuanced or multi-layered. Rickie’s story about Bernie and his life in DeGraff is straightforward, honest, optimistic, and unaffected.
Book Two, The Band Plays On: Going Home for a Music Man’s Encore, is written by Rickie becoming Rick. The themes are nuanced and somewhat judgmental, and the writing style reflects that by being more mature in tone and structure. Rickie/Rick now begins to see cracks in DeGraff’s infrastructure and flaws in several of the townsfolk. For example, and I quote myself, “A self-selected few of DeGraff’s citizens didn’t care for Bob Hall or his bar-keeping profession.” Bob was accused of running a sin-inducing beer joint. Those people also painted my father with the same broad strokes when he opened the Duck Inn, a duckpin alley.
Book Two builds to the climactic ending when Rick experiences, “...the windowed world of my childhood past assembled before me.” He realizes that all the people he looked up to and admired in DeGraff—influencers who are now deceased—are channeling their stories through him. Book Two is intentionally more layered and complex than Book One. The maturing Rickie to Rick also experiences the bitterness of loss through the death of two close friends.
Book Three, Perfect in Memory, is written by the adult Rick. Whereas most of Books One and Two take place in the past, Book Three occurs primarily in the present. One of the commonalities among the three books is that each begins in the present, drifts to the past, and ends in the present. In Books One and Two, Rickie/Rick is reliving his stories of the past for the reader. In Book Three, however, Rick is retelling his stories. The hoped for result is a subtle yet significant change in style and tone from one book to the next.
Honestly, as a former English teacher, I usually do not like it when writers explain and/or analyze their intent for their readers. There are other times that I like a writer’s clarification. I will let you judge this explanation for yourself. But it makes sense to me!