Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Musing Over Moon Over Manifest

Musing Over Moon Over Manifest
(Or if you like acronyms:  MOMOM.)

I took advantage of the two days I've had to take off from work thanks to my viral friend, influenza (kind of a pretty name, don't you think?) and finished reading Moon Over Manifest. When I started the book, I wasn't sure I'd like it. Depression era and the Midwest do not make my favourite setting for a story. The Wizard of Oz was bearable because Dorothy Gale wasn't in Kansas anymore.

Well, I'm glad I read it. There's a reason it won the Newberry Medal and was a New York Times Bestseller. Some of the best writing is on page 144:

...I thought I knew a thing or two about people. Even had my list of universals. But I wondered. Maybe the world wasn't made of universals that could be summed up in neat little packages. Maybe there were just people. People who were tired and hurt and lonely and kind in their own way and their own time...
...I admired how Ruthanne knew what I did not. That Lettie hadn't had her fill of gingersnaps. With six kids in their family, she had more than likely given up her own cookie and traded something for an extra one to share with us... 
...If there is such a think as universal--and I wasn't ready to throw all of mine out the window--it's that there is power in a story. And if someone pays you such a kindness as to make up a tale so you'll enjoy a gingersnap, you go along with that story and enjoy every last bite. 

Moon Over Manifest was a story within a story that detailed the making of a story. Yes, that's right. You'll need to read the book to get what I'm lousily trying to explain.

The makings of a good story, as described in MOM 

  • To write a good story, one must watch and listen 
  • When she tells a story, she's sort of removed from them.   She's the storyteller. 
  • Telling a story ain't hard... All you need is a beginning, middle and end. 
  • As much as I had a need to hear her story, she had a need to tell it. It was as if the story was the only ablm that provided any comfort. 

Two more quotes I have to throw in for good measure:

"Sometimes, when folks move on, it's hard to look back.  It's not their fault."

"The Baptist church, normally home to only the purest of Manifest citizens--meaning the ones who had parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents born in this country--was suddenly filled with strangers.  Each held his or her own jar or jug of either Velma T.'s elixir or Shady's whiskey."

Reading Moon over Manifest was a real treat. Abilene Tucker is part Tom Sawer, part Jean Louise "Scout" Finch and altogether a very memorable character.  Part of the ending was perhaps sweeter than I would have liked, but there was a twist I did not expect.  And yes, I did have tears in my eyes as I approached page 342.

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