Tag Archives: Author

Time Travel Anyone?

Recently on Facebook someone in a group about my hometown (Elgin, Illinois)  posted a video I’d uploaded to YouTube that my grandfather filmed when Jack Kennedy stopped in Elgin on his campaign tour. The Facebook user credited me with the video and requested my friendship on Facebook. I checked out his FB page before accepting the friendship and saw that his name was Dennis Higgins, he lived in Elgin and he wrote a few books. When I asked him about the books he said that two take place in Elgin and one in Chicago. Oh, and the books are all about time travel.

Something you may or may not know about me is that I am a sucker for time travel stories. I am not sure when it began, but I know I liked anything about time travel as far back as when I could only check out books from the children’s part of the library. One of the first time travel stories I remember reading was The Time Garden by Edward Eager. I may or may not have read the other books in his time-travel series, but I think I read at least a few of them. I also remember reading The Children at Green Knowe and other books in that series around that time, which has elements of parallel time in it. While the Chronicles of Narnia are not time-travel stories exactly — I thought of them as such when I devoured them in my teens. When I was teaching I discovered the young adult’s author, Avi, and read his very scary, but delicious Something Upstairs. More recently I have read and loved The Time Traveler’s Wife and 11-22-63.

It doesn’t stop with books — I also love time travel films. Although I don’t remember when I first saw Somewhere in Time, it is a movie I watch whenever it comes on television and is among my top five favorite films. I have not yet read the book by Richard Matheson on which it was based , although I did begin reading it and have it on my Nook. About the same time I first saw Somewhere in Time, I also saw The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan which was another romantic time-travel story, but not nearly as compelling as Somewhere in Time.

I even tried to write a time travel story once for NaNoWriMo. I’d been toying with an idea for a story about a bored 10 year old boy or girl somehow time-traveling to the early 1800’s and meeting young Robert E. Lee while his parents attended a wedding reception at the home ever since we attended a wedding at Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home in Alexandria, VA. While I didn’t finish the story (I got bored with it and lost it in a computer hard drive crash) I did end up learning a lot about Lee and his family. I think if I were to ever write anything about his family I’d write about his mother. Not a lot has been written about her and she was a long-suffering woman with an interesting life.

parallel roads by dennis higginsBack to Mr. Higigns and his time travel books. I borrowed his first book, Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66) on my Kindle and began reading it in bed Wednesday night at about 10:00. I read about 25% and decided I’d better get to sleep because I had a ton of work to do the next day. I couldn’t sleep so I read some more. Finally at 2 am I put the book down and eventually fell asleep, having read half the book. I didn’t read much yesterday because I was so busy, but did finish the book this morning.

I really enjoyed it. This one does not take place in Elgin, but there is an Elgin pocket watch in it. It is about a 30-something’s search for information about the disappearance of his paternal grandmother shortly after she gave birth to his father. It is also a bit of a travelogue about Route 66, then and now. I always find it interesting that so many authors have been able to make so many different ways to time travel, and this one is unique. I’m not doing a very good job “reviewing” this book. If you want to read a really well-done review about it, check out Ingrid Hall’s review.

You know how sometimes you read a book and it is completely foreign to you? You learn a lot of new things from that kind of book, but it never really feels familiar? Those can be good reads, but I also like the kinds of books that make me feel like I am in my own living room — books that make me nod and think, yeah, that’s right. Books that might make me  think of a parallel experience I have had. That’s what Parallel Roads was for me, in a way. No, I’ve never traveled in time, but I have tracked down some missing family history through my recent forays into genealogy. I also recently took a cross-country trip with an emotional woman. In fact, the road trip (the 1946 one) in the book really did remind me of my recent trip with Clare in quite a number of ways but if I tell you how it might ruin the ending of the book for you.

I am really glad I uploaded that video that my grandfather took and grateful to Dennis for requesting my friendship because of it. I look forward to reading his other books. Time Travel! Elgin! What’s not to love?

The Scent of a Book

Library Scene Time MachineBefore last May, more than one person was surprised to hear that I didn’t own a Kindle or any other kind of e-reader. They knew about my love of gadgets and couldn’t imagine why I’d not bought an e-reader yet. My response was the same to all — as much as I loved technology, I liked the smell of a book better.

Everyone who owned an e-reader tried to get me on-board by telling me how light they were. How I’d be able to hold hundreds of books on it. How easy on the eye they were. I heard so many good things about e-readers that I finally researched them and ended up asking for, and receiving, a Nook Color for Mother’s Day last year. I chose the Nook Color because I’d heard it could be turned into a cheap Android tablet — in case I didn’t like the e-book aspect.

Now, a few months shy of a year later, I give you my opinion: I like the smell of a book.

I also like the feel of a book in my hands and I like the sound of the pages being turned. The other day I considered cataloging all of the books in my house with an app I downloaded on my phone. I was excited at the prospect to touch (and smell) each of my books again and either remember the time spent reading them or relish the anticipation I felt about reading them someday. Then I thought about the books I downloaded on my Nook (and the audio books on my mp3 player). I would never hold those books or smell them or hear their pages turning. Did I really read them? Do I really own them? Can I catalog them?

I recalled the library scene from the 1960’s version of The Time Machine. The Time Traveler pulls a book off a shelf only to have it crumble to dust in his hand. Later he is shown the Talking Rings. Are my e- and audio- books like the talking rings or are they nothing but binary dust motes?

Autograph of Roger Tory PetersonI have read a few books on my Nook Color. My favorite was Stephen King’s 11/22/63, but because I loved it so, I ended up with eye-strain headaches from reading it deep into the night. It was convenient to buy the book the day it came out — but it was a whim buy. I probably would have waited and asked for it for Christmas if I didn’t have the Nook.

Right now I am reading The Big Year on the Nook. (actually I am reading it on my Android phone because my husband is reading the Stephen King book on the Nook). Yesterday in The Big Year I read about Roger Tory Peterson’s account of his Big Year: Wild America and remembered finding a copy of that book in an antique store about 20 years ago. I was a novice birder but recognized one of the authors. Opening the book to check the price ($2.50) I also glanced at the title page and was astounded to see that Peterson had inscribed it with best wishes to a Lloyd Foster. Of course I bought the book. It smells delightful.

This creates another issue — how do authors autograph e-books?

Geekiness

The Geeks Shall Inherit the EarthI just got word that Amazon has shipped my copy of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins. I’ve not been so excited about a book launch since Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (which sort of proves my own geekiness just by admitting that).

Alexandra Robbins, as you may recall, wrote a book about overachieving high school students and based much of her information on our neighborhood high school, since she went to school there herself. I read it, but was not happy with the message. Clare was a junior at the time and miserable. In fact she has few good memories of high school — mostly because that high school is such a pressure-cooker of a school.

Ms Robbins kindly replied to a Facebook comment I made on her wall (that I’d thrown her earlier book across the room more than once) that her new book is more hopeful. I’m glad. And I’m glad she wrote it.

When Clare was in middle school and lamenting her non-popularity and the loss of her best friend to the popular crowd I told her that, although she doesn’t know it now and may not believe it, she will be the successful one later on. She will be happier than the so-called popular kids when she’s grown. I also told her that she will be the more interesting person too — that the popular kids, for the most part, are two-dimensional and shallow and ultimately boring. That she was none of those things. Of course it didn’t help her then to hear me say that, but it helped me that I believed it — having been in a similar situation high school.

Clare’s a sophomore in college now and so far my prediction is right — at least for her. I don’t follow the popular kids. She’s confident, smart, happy and multi-dimensional. She’s a deep thinker and will do great things in life.

I’m going to get two of these books and one will go to Clare with an inscription from the author for her. (I sort of want it to say, “Your mom was right again!” which is a take off of a line from a Dan Bern song).

Stay tuned — I’ll write more about the book when I’ve actually read it. I’m going to a book reading/signing by Ms Robbins on Saturday. I couldn’t be more excited.