Thursday, November 10, 2011

POW: It's Robert McCammon!

If I begin with a word... I smile because normally I’m more circumspect- no less cheesy, but the way I begin my twitter profile seems, to me, far bolder than how I usually present myself in public. Again, it stinks of cheese, but that I own as a personal trait that is both public and private. Freely.

How else is there to begin, though? The better question is to ask why does anyone even wish to begin in the first place? To write, a single word that becomes several in succession, then groupings that grow to pages until they become- what? A book, a short story, a series, a chronicle of a life, all with that first word.

I’m meeting more folks every day. Some, I meet once before they or I drift away into the cyber soup. Others stick. I’ve enjoyed the interactions; those that have been brief, those that are more lasting. The new folks in my life are shaping me as an adult, as I step into the world with boldness not on display before.

There are those, though, who were there for me in my youth, one-sided teachers I devoured with eager anticipation, waiting for their words like gifts, re-reading their words when they didn’t write fast enough for my pleasure to be satisfied.

Robert McCammon was one of those beacons who began with a word and hooked me in that special shivery place deep in my teenage mind. I didn’t want to become a writer after reading Robert McCammon (that was an earlier, free-floating dream), but he certainly kept the fire burning bright, like a mini star I could claim as my own and rely on when I needed comfort.

Then he disappeared.

I was still young and Robert McCammon had lots of books so as a few years went by into the mid-nineties, I noticed but I had plenty of his books to consume. I read, Wolf’s Hour and wanted to be Michael Gallatin, the WWII hero and tortured soul; I read They Thirst, Mine, Usher’s Passing, Night Boat, Bethany’s Sin. I spent some big money to find and buy Stinger in the early 2000’s when my paperback copy was finally beyond repair- Cody Lockett was the shit on his motorcycle and skull earring.

Eventually, though, Robert McCammon’s absence was noticeable. I read Gone South when it came out in 1992 and waited. And waited. Oh, I had Boy’s Life and Swan Song and the rest of the books. Swan Song remains one the best books I’ve ever read (in the twenty-odd years since I discovered Robert McCammon, I’ve read Swan Song, five or six times and my favorite scenes more than that).

It wasn’t enough; the number of books and the re-reads. It didn’t sustain the 90’s for me as I waited. The internet was not so ubiquitous in that time and finding information was difficult so far all I knew,  Robert McCammon might have been swallowed by one of the monsters he wroteabout; sucked dry by a vampire, torn apart by a werewolf, or shot in an alley accidentally by a strangely con-joined bounty hunter.

Then, like a miracle, Robert McCammon re-emerged and in 2002 there was new book, Speaks The Nightbird. The second life of Robert McCammon is perhaps better than the first, as his new books are, what?, more mature, seem comfortable in a way his earlier work wasn’t. Maybe Robert McCammon is more comfortable as a writer and it shows on the page. Or maybe, no longer a boy, I’m more mature.

All this to say that this week, instead of one of my new acquaintances, I have chosen as my Pick Of the Week Robert McCammon, a childhood writing hero. He is, without a doubt, worth reading. Which reminds me, I have a copy of Swan Song  around here... somewhere. The spine is a bit worn, but that first word should carry me through to the end...


Anonymous said...

Swan Song is my all time favorite book, and, not to boast, I have read a lot of books!!

MT Nickerson said...

Hey, anonymous, thanks for the comment. McCammon and Swan Song are great. Loving his new book, too, featuring Matthew Corbett. If you haven't read those, they are well worth the time.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Oh wow! What a great choice for your person of the week. Great choice!

MT Nickerson said...

Thank you Julia. It has been my intent to try to stick to lesser known authors but since McCammon has been one of my favorite writers for more than twenty years... well, I hope people understand and forgive the indulgence in choosing him.

steve said...

I, like you started reading him way back when, I believe I was 19 when I read Swan Song, I have read almost all his books, I am 41 now by the way. I love his new ones I bought all three and have already read the first one twice, as I just found out last year that he was writting again, I myself had thought he had died as well, as in the 90's it seemed nobody could tell me anything about him, then in the early 2000's I got cought up in other things, that was so awesome when I found his new books, and now being older have the money to buy all the ones I had checked out from the librairy, anyway great blog, can't wait for his next book!!!

MT Nickerson said...

I agree, Steve. I'm glad that McCammon is back (I'm 35 and read McCammon for the first time in my early teens). Love his new stuff, though I haven't read The Five yet. On the list, though.