Reflection

“DRIVING MADELEINE”, “MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE”, AND THE SLOW NICKEL

Whenever you enter into a professional field, you discover aspects of the craft that you never anticipated.

In my 35 years of writing I have had some strange Japanese fellow claim to be me on line (he may still be doing so, for all I know), a priest in New England literally lift passages from Letters to My Son and use them as his own in published sermons (I let it pass, much to the dismay of my more litigious and anti-Catholic friends), and seen a professor in the Philippines build a public following and develop his professional reputation around his thievery of my chapter on Marriage in Simple Truths.

But nothing has compared to the recent discovery that a highly popular French film, Driving Madeleine, currently showing around America as well, was a direct lifting of my story from Make Me an Instrument of your Peace about the time I picked up an elderly woman in my cab and drove her through her old neighborhood before dropping her off at a hospice.

To be fair, this story got cut loose from its point of origin in my book and set free on the internet, where it was often attributed to “anonymous” or claimed by various wannabe writers or inspirational bloggers. But, by and large, it was appropriately credited and became the one thing I’ve ever written that has “gone viral”, to use the parlance of a generation to which I do not belong.

“Aha,” I thought, when I first found out about the film.  ‘That’s my story.”  For once in my life I had dollar signs in my eyes and I was prepared to move to some South Sea island and spend my life smoking cigars and drinking Margaritas (“I said, ‘no salt, no salt'” for those of you in the know).

Alas, the legal Big Dogs said there is no case there. I would be squashed like a bug and drained of every penny I had. “You can’t copyright an idea,” they said. “You will be legal road kill.”

Now, there are many things I don’t want to be, and legal road kill is high on the list. So I have taken my dashed hopes and trudged back to my writing desk where I hunker down listening to the echo of my father and every other working stiff I have ever known who said, “Better the slow nickel than the quick dollar.” But it was a good fantasy while it lasted.

Now you can see for yourself what that fantasy was all about. Here’s the cab driving story: https://kentnerburn.com/the-cab-ride-ill-never-forget/.  And here’s the IMDB listing for Driving Madeleine:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14586118/.  The trailer doesn’t show the ending at the nursing home, but, trust me, it’s there.

Oh well, life goes on.

Hunker, hunker.  Write, write.  Where’s that nickel?

“DRIVING MADELEINE”, “MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF YOUR PEACE”, AND THE SLOW NICKEL Read More »

Where, oh where, is Lone Dog Road?

Many of you are asking (as am I):  Where, oh where, is the promised new novel, Lone Dog Road?

Here’s what you are waiting for:

A book that William Kent Krueger says “is breathtaking in its beauty and heartwarming in its humanity.”

A book that Dan O’Brien says “Opens a door on another reality.”

A book that Leif Enger says is “swift, compassionate, and instantly credible.”

A book that my friend, Robert Plant, calls “a revelation.”

It is, I hope, all of that.  But it is also a book that is having a frustrating and difficult time being born.  As I’ve said, the big publishers ran from it because it has the mark of Cain upon it:  A white man writing about Indians.  Notwithstanding that I’ve earned my spurs in the Native world by my patient labors over 30 years, and that hundreds of you Native folks — among my most faithful and insightful readers — would stand up for me on a moment’s notice, the publishing world sees with wary eyes and paints with a broad brush.  The book scared them, leaving me to go with this earnest, courageous young publisher, Polished Stone Press.

To their credit, Polished Stone is, with a small staff, trying to do what the big publishers do with hundreds of employees and well-oiled machines.   Not suprisingly, they are struggling.  The innards of the struggle are unimportant; watching the sausage be made is generally a sight to be avoided.  I just want to see the book in your hands, because I love it and believe in it and want to offer it to you as what I think is a unique literary gift.  And I will get it to you.

At this point there are plans to simultaneously publish a limited edition hardcover and a paperback, and to do so within the next few months.  I do not want to be “the boy who cried, ‘book’!” so I’m not going to proclaim a date.   And, understand, I’m none too happy with the delays myself.  But I think there is light at the end of the tunnel.  We only have to hope that the light is not some chimerical illusion or distant mirage.

But I’m willing to be patient.  Lone Dog Road is a good book; one of my favorites, and I believe it is worth the wait.

Just know that when it finally does come out, I will need all of you to help it make its way in the world by flooding the cyber world with reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and everywhere else.  A small publisher has no real promotion budget and has to rely on word of mouth, which has always been good to me.

We as author and readers have always had a special relationship — more friends than readers and writer, so I know I can count on you.  Lone Dog Road is going to need all of us pushing it into the light if we want it to do the good in the world that my other books have done.

So stay patient and stay tuned.  And talk to your local bookseller about making a pre-order.  They will be the first to know when this little literary infant will crawl forth into the world.  Hopefully, it will be before the buds are on the trees.

I’ll keep you updated as best I can. 

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