Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Review: "O Little Town of Donuts" by Ron Peer with Mitzi Lynton


O Little Town of Donuts
by Ron Peer with Mitzi Lynton


O Little Town of Donuts, by screenwriter Ron Peer with Mitzi Lynton, is a sweet-hearted story about good feelings, love, and Christmas cheer. Retiree Jerry DeShazo is driving to Chicago for Christmas when a car accident strands him in the charming small town of Suttonville, Texas. After getting the news he’ll be in town for a few days waiting for his car to be repaired, Jerry’s first stop is Libby’s Donuts with his new friends Emily, the girl he swerved to miss and hit a tractor parked too close to the road instead, and her mother, Maria. In the shop he meets the lively Libby, running in a special mayoral election against a descendent of the town’s founder, George Sutton.
     At first Jerry is seen as a harmless eccentric. He gives cards to everyone he meets with The Gift of Love printed on one side and a poem on the other. His talent for garnering friends quickly makes him Suttonville’s most popular guest. But Sutton—whose tractor George hit—sees Jerry as a threat to his mayoral aspirations. All the while Jerry is sharing his secret to life around town; send love to everyone, even yourself, and everything will work out for the best.
     O Little Town of Donuts gets to the heart of what Christmas should be: a celebration of our neighbors, our communities, and even ourselves. A kind of love letter to humanity, person by person. It is loaded with eccentric characters—an angry newspaperman, a kind-hearted Sheriff, a bitter businessman, a donut shop owner with a past. But its heart is Jerry. A guy who loves everyone, kind of a Santa Claus figure, with the joyful mission of bringing love and happiness to anyone who will accept it. O Little Town of Donuts is a perfect holiday read that will brighten even the darkest day.

Go here for the Kindle edition at Amazon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Review: "Texas Wind" by James Reasoner

Texas Wind
by James Reasoner
The Book Place, 2010

James Reasoner’s first novel, Texas Wind, is a great hardboiled private eye tale set in Fort Worth, Texas in the late-1970s. It was originally published by the stingy and unethical Manor Books in 1980; “stingy and unethical” because most writers had to threaten the editor’s life or hire a lawyer to get paid. The writer and critic, Ed Gorman, called Texas Wind, “one of the finest private eye novels I’ve ever read…” and its narrative simplicity, its powerful and laconic and apt social commentary, and the vividly realized North Texas setting give his statement credibility.
     Cody is an everyman. The kind of guy you see in the grocery store, at the bar, washing his car on the weekend. When the wealthy Gloria Traft approaches Cody to find her missing college age step-daughter, Mandy, Cody reluctantly agrees to take the job. His hesitance is simple: most adult runaways want to disappear, or they reappear within a few days no worse off than when they left. The clues quickly lead Cody to think Mandy fell in love and ran off with a boy, but Gloria talks him into locating Mandy to ensure she is safe. But things turn sideways when another interested player shows himself.
     Texas Wind is a marvelous slice of what life must have been like in the Texas of the 1970s. Reasoner’s simple and powerful descriptive passages breathe life into the city—Fort Camp Bowie Blvd, Trinity Park, the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art all make appearances—and Cody’s careful observations about the people inhabiting this world, which is a proxy for our own, are add flavor and a little meaning. The story is slam-bang from the first page to the last, too. My regret for this book—and it is a significant regret—is that I waited so long to read it.

Go here for the Kindle version and here for the paperback edition at Amazon.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Sometimes I Need to Know... NBC Line-Up, 1974



Sometimes I need to know what was on television during the week of September 9, 1974. This is from the Logan Herald Journal, (Utah) Sep. 9, 1974. KUTV Channel 2 was—at least in 1974—the Salt Lake City affiliate of NBC.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Review: "The Tithing Herd" by J. R. Lindermuth


The Tithing Herd
by J. R. Lindermuth
Sundown Press, 2017

The Tithing Herd
, by J. R. Lindermuth, is a traditional Western with a bevy of action, solid characterization, and a literate and vivid style. Lute Donnelly is a former lawman tracking a vicious outlaw called Spanish across New Mexico’s high desert. Lute is seeking vengeance on Spanish for murdering his brother. He seems closer than ever when Lute cuts a boy, Tom Baskin, down from a tree—where he was “hanging by his heels from the limb of a cottonwood”—and Lute is told Tom had been riding with two members of Spanish’s gang.
     Lute wants to track the boy’s partners, hoping they will lead him to Spanish, but instead Lute reluctantly agrees to accompany a cattle herd set aside by local Mormon ranchers as their tithe to the church. The cattle trail leads Donnelly back to a Mormon town where the woman he loves, the widow Serene McCollough, is rumored to be marrying an elder of the church. But that’s not Lute’s only trouble because Spanish’s gang is set on rustling the tithing herd and it will do anything—including kidnapping and murder—to get what it wants.
The Tithing Herd is an entertaining Western tale. Lindermuth paints his settings with a fine brush:

“Far off to the northwest he saw the hazy escarpment of the Mogollon Rim and before it, rumpled cedar-crested ridges, diminishing in height as they fell forward to meet a rolling valley swathed in buffalo grass and traversed by a broad stream which sparkled in the sunlight purpling the hills.”

The characters, especially Lute, is rich with contradictions and, at times moral ambiguity. Lute’s aim at vengeance is understandable but inconsistent with his worldview and internal morality. The villains are dark-hearted and sociopathic, which allows the reader to wantonly root for their demise. The narrative builds slowly until rattling into gunplay and violence. The Mormon element is interesting. Lindermuth develops his Mormons with sympathy and realism: they are good and bad both. But ultimately, The Tithing Herd is Lute Donnelly’s story, and it is darn good for those readers with hankering for the Old West.

Go here for the paperback version and here for the Kindle version at Amazon.

Monday, December 04, 2023

"Introducing the Author... Evan Hunter" — from Imagination


This light-hearted, but informative autobiographical essay by Evan Hunter appeared in the Dec. 1953 issue of Imagination alongside Hunter’s novelette, “First Captive”. I particularly like the paragraphs towards the end where Hunter discusses character. [click on the image to make it larger]