Morrissey, Bill. Edson. Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.
Reason read: June is the month a lot of small towns celebrate different things. Just yesterday Kisa and I went to an asparagus festival.
While I was reading Edson I had the sense that the town and the story of the main character were partly autobiographical in nature. Center stage is Edson, a small New Hampshire town with a cast of quirky characters. Most intriguing is former singer/songwriter Henry Corvine. Recently returned after a divorce and a disastrous stint on a fishing boat in Ketchikan, Alaska, Henry didn’t want the divorce and he couldn’t maintain even the smallest passion for the ocean. Acting as his refuge, Edson is where Henry returns to start over. Doing just what, he doesn’t know. The tiny town of Edson is brimming with other characters, including Caroline, a young waitress with her eye on bigger and better things and Pope Johnson, a singer who has stolen Henry’s former Edson life, right down to the songs Henry wrote and used to perform on a nightly basis. Resigned to the fact time has erased the true creator of the lyrics (think Dave Matthews singing “All Along the Watchtower”), Henry lets Pope take his former spotlight while Henry meanders from one job possibility to another. He may be lost in Edson, but it’s still the place to which he keeps coming back.
As an aside, the Edson mill closing down in the dead of night was exactly like Josh Ritter’s “Henrietta, Indiana” song. There are probably hundreds of stories about factories shuttering their doors without warning and putting thousands out of work.
As another aside, there is lot of smoking and drinking in Edson.
Author fact: Bill Morrissey is a real life singer-songwriter. I had a chance to listen to some of his performances on the internet. I would definitely go to a bar to hang out to enjoy his music.
Book trivia: this should be a movie. Josh Ritter could play the lead.
Playlist: Mississippi John Hurt, Joni Mitchell, Grace Paley, Johnny Hodges, the fictional Tyler Beckett, Righteous Brothers (“Unchained Melody”), Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly,
Nancy said: Pearl explains some of the plot.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Small-Town Life” (p 203).