A Sparrow Alone
Our world has changed in ways within less than a month that few of us could have ever envisioned. Family gatherings to celebrate our holidays together this week will be held from our digital cocoons. Instead of comparison shopping for stylish new sandals for the beach, we're scouring the internet for simple, but reliable methods to construct face masks to wear in public. Two- and three-word directives such as wash your hands, shelter in place, social distancing, lock down, six-foot distancing, flattening the curve and hands off face are now the dictated mantra of our waking lives. We're frightened by the daily barrage of statistics, terrified for our health-compromised family members and friends, but attempt, nonetheless, to stay fully informed with this constantly evolving situation. But we also need breathers. Not some pie-in-the-face comic breather, but one that give us the understanding that others before us have dealt with horrific challenges and they've ultimately emerged. Often fiction is a better way to accomplish this goal rather than non-fiction. However, I'm not referring to the contrived chick-lit, cozy mystery/thriller or romance fluff that seems to dominate what is so often assumed to be the preferred medium to satiate our reading tastes. When you look at the copyright dates of inspirational (not religious inspiration) bestselling works there's often a pattern of hope -- never the one initially aspired to by the protagonist -- found between the covers of those books, that's also a reading escape for the times. For example, W. Somerset Maugham's "The Painted Veil" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby", both published in 1925, were tepidly received at the time of publication, but re-emerged as escape reading by World War II and were essential acquisitions on almost every bookshelf throughout the U.S. Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind", published in 1936, appealed to a nation wanting to escape while still reeling from the Great Depression and uneasy about conflicting attitudes regarding socialism, communism and Nazism on the expanding global front. Scarlett O'Hara had somehow persevered to proclaim that she could look forward to tomorrow because it was indeed another day and therefore, so could we. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, published in 1960 on the precipice of raw, snarling racial tensions, provided an ease of conscience to white readers that, yes, we had been doing more for our brethren-of-color, even if it wasn't necessarily valid. My own debut historical fiction, "A Sparrow Alone" will be published by Living Springs Publishers on April 15, 2020, one week from today; my novel is certainly not on the caliber of any of these above-mentioned epics! It is, however, a coming-of-age saga based in 1890's Cripple Creek, Colorado dealing with the turn-of-the-century political, economic and cultural turmoil that ultimately propelled us into our world today. And, like the classics mentioned above, seen from a smaller lens to bring those concepts into focus. Our ancestors were indeed carved of sturdy stock!