“America is about […] Poor People”

America, I think, is about poor people playing music and poor people sharing food and poor people dancing, even when everything else in their lives is so desperate, and so dismal that it doesn’t seem that there should be any room for music, any extra food, or any extra energy for dancing. And people can say that I’m wrong, that we’re a puritanical people, an evangelical people, a selfish people, but I don’t believe that. I don’t want to believe that (245).

–Nickolas Butler, Shotgun Lovesongs

Rounding the corner to the last part of the year. Summer’s singing her swan song, saying good-bye, heralding Autumn.

Over the course of this year, I’ve read some great books, discovered authors I knew nothing about, but who’ve since become some of my favorites. One of those authors is Nickolas Butler.

I started this novel a couple days ago and am just about finished. Damn, this is a solid book. I won’t spend time summarizing the story as you can find a number of places online that do it much better than I ever could, but I do want to speak to the power of the work.

Prior to relocating to Minnesota, I got asked a lot as to why I was moving to the Midwest. Interestingly enough, I’ve received the same question out here: “Why would you ever move from California to Minnesota?” My short reply: Job opportunities, cheap land, great place to raise a family. Although, recently I’ve decided to tell people how much I love The Mighty Ducks, that I wanted to get as close to Gordon Bombay’s peewee hockey magic as possible.

One of the things that let me know it would be okay living in the Midwest was the work of author, Michael Perry. His memoirs and essays about the region filled me the confidence and acceptance I needed, helped me understand that I would do just fine out here. Butler’s novel does the same thing (for me, at least). His prose perfectly captures the various facets of Midwestern America. I have no regrets about moving out this way, but it’s nice to be reminded from time to time, that I made the right decision.

Go out and read this book. It will change the way you think and feel about where you come from, where you are, and where you’re going. Power of reading at work.

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