Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 12)
by Jim McCarty
his winter has been a tough
one. Waves of snow, freezing rain and bitter cold have
taken their toll. And spring is
too far away to even consider.
February is the perfect time to
stoke the ﬁre, pull up the easy chair
and settle in with a good book. Something that takes you away is a good
start, and these recent writings from
Missouri authors will do just that.
Here's to the end of winter - and
enough reading material to get us
Hook, Line & Sinker
Edited by Mark Morgan
"Everyone loves a good story, and
anglers have many to share. Just ask
them." Mark Morgan, an associate
professor at the University of Missouri, shares that belief in this collection of ﬁsh tales.
Mark asked anglers statewide to tell
their ﬁsh stories, and then he enlisted
the help of 15 students enrolled in his
Social Aspects of Fishing class to narrow them down to 50 "keepers."
The result is a fun read for anyone
who has ever cast a line in a Missouri
stream, pond or lake. The stories run
the gamut from a lunker trout that
ﬁshes for squirrels to a mighty blue
catﬁsh that leads four men on an
unsuccessful four-year quest. Whether
you believe them or not, these stories
are certainly entertaining.
This book would be a ﬁne addition
to any tackle box for those days when
the ﬁsh don't bite.
"Hook, Line & Sinker" is available
from The Mizzou Store in Columbia,
at the UMSL and Missouri S&T bookstores or online at themizzoustore.
com. All proceeds beneﬁt the University of Missouri.
The Longest Year
By Stan Crader
Tommy Thompson is back in this
third volume in Stan Crader's "Colby"
series, and this time he has a long
wait. Anyone who was the youngest in their high-school class knows
what's happening to Tommy. While
his classmates gain the newfound
freedom only a driver's license can
provide, Tommy must wait an interminable year for the big day to arrive.
In "The Longest Year," the band of
boys introduced in "The Bridge" and
"Paperboy" come of age in Colby, a
place some might recognize as Stan's
hometown of Marble Hill.
It's hard to tell if these are written
for teenagers or for their parents. The
book is engrossing for the former, and
the later will see themselves reﬂected
in the characters.
Readers of "The Longest Year" can
lose themselves in the nostalgia of
growing up in small-town America. Or
they can search for the deeper meanings as Stan deals with topics such as
the Vietnam War, race relations and
the heartache of young love.
It's almost sad seeing Tommy,
Booger, Flop, Melody and Wendy
grow up. You know graduation is
looming, and the friends soon will be
ﬂung in different directions like leaves
in the wind.
There's also the sense that some-
A mid-winter read
New books from ﬁve Missouri writers
thing of great value has been lost as
the Colbys of the world also come
of age, losing their innocence and
downtowns. In "The Longest Year,"
Stan Crader reminds us that while you
can't go back, it's not too late to save
the foundations on which our nation
"The Longest Year" and Stan Crader's other books are available in print
and e-book formats at book stores
and online at www.amazon.com. All
proceeds go to help veterans in crisis
through the Resurrecting Lives Foundation. You can learn more about
Stan's books at www.stancrader.com.
By John Drake Robinson
In John Robinson's second book
about his travels down every road in
Missouri, he keeps telling his readers
"the end is near." It's good that John
documented so many small towns, so
many scenic byways, so many interesting people.
As anyone who has held John's
vantage point looking through the
windshield of a car knows, those
people and places that have made
Missouri such an interesting state are
an endangered species.
John writes about many such places that have succumbed to the passage
of time. He recalls the heyday of Lee
Mace's Ozark Opry and the Goldenrod
Showboat, now a rotting hulk but
once a river-cruising dinner theater.
Once director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, John took on the job
with the gusto of one determined to
speak from experience. His ofﬁcial
travels took him to most of Missouri's
tourism destinations. His unofﬁcial
travels - in a red Pontiac Sunﬁre
named Erifnus Caitnop - form the
basis for this book and the previous
one, "A Road Trip into America's Hidden Heart."
Here, John shakes off the mantle
of tact he had to wear as Missouri's
chief tourism ofﬁcial and tells it like it
is. This is no travel guide. It's unvarnished Missouri, including encounters
with meth users, litterbugs and even
the "devil" himself.
There's also solid citizens piloting
ferry boats, cooking mom-worthy
meals and bringing hope to small
towns poised for a return to greatness.
Who knew the Snickers candy bar
got its name from a Blackwater woman? Or that Petticoat Junction was
inspired by Eldon?
Hats off to John for taking good
notes in his role as a modern-day
explorer of Missouri's ﬁnal frontier.
His books would make a better history
lesson than most textbooks.
"Coastal Missouri" is available at
www.amazon.com, many local bookstores, and through John's website,
The Maid's Version
By Daniel Woodrell
If John Robinson paints a picture
of Missouri without varnish, Daniel
Woodrell has been known to strip it
down to below the woodwork. His
eight previous works include "Winter's Bone" and "Woe to Live On,"
both made into major motion pictures
and both featuring less than savory
accounts of rural Missouri's residents.
Daniel writes the way literary giant
William Faulkner would have written had he grown up in the Missouri
Ozarks instead of Mississippi. Drawing
on the landscape around West Table,
a thinly veiled alias for West Plains,
his latest offering continues to tell the
story of the downtrodden, scarredby-life characters for which he has
In this case, he assumes the voice
of a poverty-stricken maid - Alma
DeGeer Dunahew - who gradually
gives up her version of who caused a
tragic (and true) explosion in a crowded dance hall.
In Alma, Daniel has created one of
the most interesting characters since
Huck Finn. He traces her miserable
life back and forth from the time of
the tragedy. You will read this book
like a gawker at a trainwreck, somewhat horriﬁed by what takes place but
unable to put it down until the last
page is turned.
Lurking under the surface is a social
commentary and a cautionary tale of
class conﬂict. This is classic Woodrell,
one of Missouri's greatest storytellers.
"The Maid's Version" is available at
bookstores and online at www.amazon.com.
Damming The Osage
By Leland and Crystal Payton
Previous works by Leland and Crystal Payton have explored the fragile
beauty of the Ozarks, including the
deﬁnitive work on the Irish Wilderness. Forgotten history also is a common theme in their work.
So they were a natural for this look
at how a pair of dams changed a way
of life for generations of people living
along one of Missouri's great rivers,
the Osage. While others have dipped
their pens into the river, no one
before has taken such a close look at
the river's past, present and future.
In more than 300 pages, you'll
discover a vanished way of life before
this region was ﬂooded by lakes. The
book runs the river from its prehistoric past to the worn-out turbine used
as modern art at Bagnell Dam's scenic
Unlike the other books reviewed
here, this one is profusely illustrated,
both by Leland's ﬁne shooting eye
and with hundreds of old photos,
maps, historic travel brochures, news
clippings and postcards. Some of these
images show places that were doomed
by the rising lake waters. Others will
just make you laugh.
Despite giving readers a sense that
something wonderful has been lost
under these two great lakes, the Paytons leave you with a sense of wonder
at a region chocked full of cultural
history and natural beauty.
This book brings back to life a
bygone era and records forever an
important piece of Missouri history.
Future generations will turn to this
book as they debate the construction
of any new dams.
"Damming the Osage" is available
for $25 from Lens & Pen Press, 4067
S. Franklin, Springﬁeld, MO 65807 or
online at www.beautifulozarks.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014
Rural Missouri - February 2014
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Rural Missouri - February 2014