Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Brings the Lightning, by Peter Grant
It would bother me greatly that I am such a fan boy of certain authors (and other people), if it weren't for the fact that I think. Yes, admittedly when I was in the third grade and eight years old, I was a gooey, sick kind of fan boy of Sergeant Rock, but then, it was also 1962 and my father and millions of people who mattered were all veterans of WWII. So, I practiced throwing grenades wit my step-dads sparkplugs for the SAAB he was rebuilding in the garage. He never should have left spark plugs on the kitchen counter, anyway; they look like hand grenades.
But, that was all pre-rational fan boy. I'm more than a half-century older now, and I actually THINK about the people I admire. I'm not going to go on and on about why I would admire Peter apart from his writing, because I think it would sound too much like a third-grader effusing about Sergeant Rock. Read what he has to say himself about where he's been and what he's done and what he thinks, and decide for yourself; I'm not selling memberships in the Peter Grant Fan Club.
But for me, he's one of the minor reasons I don't go to cons; if I were to encounter him in person, I'd make such an ass of myself that it would embarrass everybody in the neighborhood, the two principal embarassees being his insanely talented wife Dorothy and my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA.
He has two (related) space opera series; a profound autobiographical work called "Walls, Wires, Bars, and Souls;" and this new cowboy book.
Yeah, I said cowboy book. It ain't REALLY a cowboy book, but it is about the American West, in the aftermath of the Civil War.More specifically, it's about the choices and fortunes of one Walt Ames, a Confederate soldier discharged after Appomattox, who returns to his Tennessee home to find nothing to keep him.
He does have family, but in the hard-scraped days following the end of the War, there simply isn't enough coming in from the family farm to support another work hand.
And then, he gets to fulfill the fantasy of every teenage boy with a young and good-looking teacher, when he finds Rose Eliot, who taught him the penmanship he used to become a courier, has fallen on hard times, and he gets to provide her with the resources she needs and companionship out West, where she has the offer of a new teaching position.
If this was written by someone else, I suppose there would be a gratuitous sex scene tossed in here, before they had established a new relationship, but Peter has a better feel for frontier morality than that. SPOILER ALERT: they DO get married, and everything is done with propriety, and it takes rather longer than I wanted to; I figured out they would fall for each other quite a few chapters before they realize it.
Anybody who has heard family stories of a major move knows that the process was daunting. Walt has a hoard of gold coins come by honestly (well, by killing the guy who stole them) and that saves him from failure, but it is his skill as an armorer and (literally) a horse trader that makes the move out West a success. Walt also hires a crew of freemen to help manage the baggage train he puts together; to go much further would be to give away the story entirely. I will say that Grant has an excellent ear for dialogue, and does not make the mistake of confusing intelligence and ability with grammatical precision.
I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.