A Texas reader recently got in touch about Doc. While she enjoyed the story, she said, “You don’t seem to think much of Texans.” I had to point out that John Henry Holliday didn’t think much of Texans. Of course, he was not meeting the cream of society while he lived in the Lone Star State. And in 1878, Dodge City wasn’t attracting many cultured, educated Texas sophisticates either.
I should have pointed out that one of my own personal favorite characters was D.W. Yarbrough, the Jesuit from Waco in The Sparrow. Didn’t think of that when I was replying to the reader, but D.W. was a honey.
In any case, it is always a mistake to presume that an author’s views are being expressed by a character. Sometimes our attitudes overlap. Sometimes they don’t. On one point, however, there is considerable agreement between John Henry Holliday and me: home is a beautiful word.
Right now, I have four loaves of bread rising. There’s laundry drying, and I’m ticking off a long list of things I want to do before I exit this household. For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be on the road almost continuously, with just enough time each week to fly home, do laundry, repack and leave again. I’ve bought 2 months of prescriptions for everybody — my husband, both dogs, and me. (We are an aging bunch, dependent on a lot of medications, but doing quite well, considering.) The bills are paid. The house is clean. (Am I the only one who saw the photos of Osama bin Laden’s hide-out and thought, “Three wives, and NOBODY cleans that bathroom?”) My husband is perfectly capable of doing this stuff, but it’s not like he’s got a lot of spare time, and I hate to leave him with a mess to take care of when I’m gone. Oh, and I should make some Holy Relic Cake, too, as long as I’ve got the oven on for the bread…
I’ve checked the 10-day weather reports (around 60, days; around 50 nights). I’m charging up my phone and the notebook computer while I decide what to pack. On Monday, I’ll be flying out to the west coast for events in the Seattle, Denver and San Francisco areas. (See EVENTS for the details.) I’m really looking forward to seeing old and new friends out there, and I expect to have a good time on the road, but I know that before long, I will be frantic to be home. The last airport is always the worst. The yearning for home gets more intense as I get closer.
I’ve already done several interviews about Doc, and a couple of Cleveland area book events, so I’m getting a feel for the kinds of questions this book elicits. So far, people are surprisingly willing — eager, almost — to accept the idea that John Henry Holliday was not a psychotic killer with a death wish. There has been some latent American desire to believe he was better than the caricatures. As one reader told me, “I’ve always loved Doc Holliday. Now I know why I felt that way about him.”
That reaction, for me, is thrilling, and I’d like to believe that somewhere, Doc’s mamma is smiling.
Speaking of smiles! The Doc Holliday Memorial Smile Train Fund has collected enough for 8 additional cleft palate repairs in John Henry’s honor. There are almost 500 subscribers to this blog. Just a dollar from each of you would add two more surgeries that will each change the fortunes of a whole family. Many thanks to the following donors for their generosity and their willingness to cave into my shameless guilt-mongering!
Jim and Maureen Reichardt
Theodore & Joanne Gostas
The Loomis Family
Eleanor D’Addio Baehr
Ms. Jennifer Hershey