(I drew the two of diamonds. I love this card (from the Bicycle “Club Tattoo” deck) – kind of a Chinese-flavored, one-headed Cerberus(!) with one paw on a “basketball” – like any good Hoosier mythological creature!)
For me, this year’s annual Deal Me In project has been my most anticipated yet. Throughout 2014, I would often think, “I need to put that (author or story) in my 2015 DMI roster,” or “That would be a great idea for a suit for my next DMI,” etc. The reason for my heightened anticipation seems clear: the interaction with the other bloggers who participated in DMI 2014 opened many doors to new authors and new stories AND new ideas for DMI. For this I am thankful.
It was with this irresistible anticipation, then, that I thought, “Hey, I should draw my first card for 2015 at the stroke of midnight On New Year’s Eve!” I even had a new deck of cards (the way cool “club tattoo” deck from Bicycle) that I was going use for the project. So I settled in to do a little reading about ten p.m. on Wednesday (I celebrate New Year’s Eve in the afternoon – much safer)… Of course, the next thing I remember is waking up about 1:45 a.m. 🙂
So, I drew my card on Thursday morning and was crestfallen when it turned out to be the two of diamonds – a wild card. All this planning of titles and authors I had done in advance, and here right off the bat I had to come up with a wild card story!? I hate drawing a wild card so early. It’s like hitting the daily double on Jeopardy! with your first selection. Serenity now! What was “worse” was that it was the two of diamonds. Diamonds is the suit I’d assigned to stories from the Indy Writes Books anthology and, traditionally, I try to keep my wild cards in the theme of the suit. Problem was, there are twelve – and only twelve – short stories included In that book. Sure, there are other pieces of non-fiction and poetry included, but was that really how I wanted to start my “short story” year? (Drawing a different card, of course, was out of the question. Fate had already spoken.)
Then, scanning the other pieces in the anthology, a logical choice soon became clear. I should read Dan Wakefield’s introduction in the book – an introduction focusing on the great tradition and literary history of Indiana writers. So my wild card is Wakefield’s essay/introduction “Corn, Limestone, Horseweed and Writers”
I’m familiar with Wakefield from his novel “Going All the Way” and his being a sometimes visitor to the Vonnegut Library book club weetings, where at one of which we discussed his recently published volume of of Vonnegut’s letters. He has also been referred to as the “patron saint” of the Indy Reads Books bookstore in downtown Indy, having – until recently – lived just a few blocks down the street. (In 2014, I also began participating in a book club that meets at that location.)
Shortly into reading the introduction, which tells of a ‘golden age’ of Indiana literature, I encountered the following pronouncement:
“Here is my hot news: ‘The Golden Age of indiana Literature’ never ended, and is still in full swing.” – Dan Wakefield
This sentence is certainly welcome news to me, with my intent to “read local” as much as possible in 2015. My initial, knee-jerk skepticism, however, made me think, “well, I’m sure many other states or locales think they’re in a golden age too,” but Wakefield presents rather convincing evidence of Indiana’s ’literary might’ and by the end had me convinced how lucky I am to be living and reading (and blogging?) in such a literary state.
He mentions the Lew Wallace novel, “Ben-Hur” (perhaps you’ve seen the movie, but did you know that – after The Bible and Uncle Tom’s Cabin – it outsold every other book from 1880 to 1936? ’36 was, not coincidentally, the year Gone With the Wind was published) which I already had on my 2015 reading list, but I also gleaned a few other titles to add to my ‘read local’ books for the coming year:
An American Tragedy (Theodore Dreiser)
Ernie Pyle in England (Ernie Pyle)
Magnificent Obsession (Lloyd C. Douglas) or The Robe (same author)
Girl of the Limberlost (Gene Stratton Porter)
An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)
Alice Adams (Booth Tarkington)
So… an unexpectedly “educational” start for my 2015 Deal Me In project. What short story or stories did YOU read this week?
If you’d like to read this introduction – and the rest of the book of course! – it’s available for purchase at Indy Reads Books in downtown Indianapolis, or you can order online if you’re one of the unfortunates who doesn’t live in central Indiana. 🙂 See http://www.indyreads.org/indy-writes-books/ for details.