I forget exactly how I first came to know of Shelby Foote, but I seem to remember it as that once a year moment when there is something interesting on CSpan at the same time you happen to put the tv on channel 98, or whatever it is where you are. But learn of him I did, though it's taken a couple of years for me to kind of follow up on that.
Frank Portman I have a somewhat longer standing familiarity with, though until very recently, and still honestly, I know him better as Dr. Frank, one of my all time favorite songwriters and punk rock heros. He has this sweet-ass band the Mr. T Experience. It's because of Dr. Frank that I know what ennui and weltschmerz mean. And this beginning of a story starts with the good doctor and ends with Mr. Foote.
Whatever day last week was errand day, I dropped by the mall because it's got a Waldenbooks, and I was tired of not buying this cool new book I've been meaning to get. Frank Portman has written THE cool new book, King Dork, and given that whole love of mine for the man's ability to make words work together really well, add my own love of books, you've got a recipe for a purchase. Unless of course they don't have the book you want.
Staring into the bargain bin, wishing I could find a book that I wanted, I noticed it. The title was about a yard long, and I'm not even close to being sure how to properly punctuate it, but we'll throw some commas at it and see what sticks. It's volume 1 of a series titled The Civil War, a Narrative. The volume itself is titled Fort Sumter to Kernstown: First Blood-The Thing Gets Under Way.
I began reading the book a day or two before a new PopSci showed up in the mail, and that preoccupied me a little. But I was soon back into the secession and the build up to war. Jefferson Davis has just left the farm to be the president of the CSA. We jump at that point to Abraham Lincoln. I'm still getting background on Lincoln as he has yet to run for president. It's written in a great narrative style, proving my interest in Shelby Foote, at least so far, was well placed.
At some point in all this Momma finally orders her helmet. As one fine-as-can-be Hard Knox Roller Girl, she has needed a helmet for some time, but she's been able to get through the practices just fine with borrowing. Since she was finally ordering something online, we decided we might as well get Frank's book. It's never been a question of if but when we were going to buy the damn thing. Next of course came the wait until UPS rolled up today, a few days sooner than we really expected.
I wondered as I ripped into the box if I was going to keep reading about the Civil War or if I was going to finally find out about Tom Henderson. Dr. Frank wins this round. Maybe my mood will flip tomorrow, and I'll need to get a little more meat in my mental diet and go with history, or maybe not. As it is now, I already want to sneak to the garage for a smoke and some deep reading.
When I went searching for a link for Shelby Foote, I found some news at NPR. Apparently he died last year. I never watched the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War, but now I may have to. I'll read the books first though. I found the news at NPR, but I link you to the Wikipedia page.
And finally, I'm curious how many Mr. T Experience fans have the same problem when reading King Dork. I think I hear his voice in my head when I read the book. Not all the time maybe, but I know at least part of the time, I hear Dr. Frank in my head reading his words. I do the same reading the British sea going tales that I love, slowly slipping into an English accent, inside my head.