Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs A pair of new books slid to a halt on my desk this week. Or more accurately, one landed on my desk, and the other arrived in my inbox.
The latter, “Pleasant Valley,” is a collection of short stories by former longtime Steamboat resident M.C. “Bud” Johnsen. His book, recently accepted by Kindle Direct Publishing, was a decade in the making, which means Bud started work on his short stories long before any of us knew what a Kindle was.
You remember Bud Johnsen in his crisp straw cowboy hat and jeans, don’t you? Bud and Sally live in Grand Junction these days.
If you don’t recall him from his days as manager of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, you probably encountered him at the old Cowboy’s Mercantile. And if you didn’t shop there, you definitely remember Bud from the Diamond BJ Dance Hall, which reigned over the west side of Steamboat for what now seems like a moment in time.
The first book, “Balcones Fault,” is a hardcover novel by Sam Garner, who moved here with his wife, Elaine, from Austin, Texas, in September 2012. They’ve been visiting Steamboat since at least 1992, when one of their sons moved here.
Garner’s book grabs you from the first sentence with the alliterative use of profanity. And there’s plenty of descriptive prose to follow: “Uncle Abe had to be older than Adolph Zukor. He had a pumpkin-sized head with a Jack o’lantern mouth that looked like it had been carved out by Vincent Price. Deep set colorless eyes glowed with high wattage intensity. The only hair on his head curled out of flared nostrils.”
Say, I think I’m going to take this one home with me! And when I get home, I’ll probably download Bud’s new book — it’s only $2.99 at Kindle Direct.
The nearly simultaneous arrival of “Pleasant Valley” and “Balcones Fault” reminded me of how the barriers to self-publishing have been dropped, and in this egalitarian era, there’s no longer any need for authors to suffer rejection notices if they aren’t masochists.
Recently, I’ve acquired a quirky taste for modest little books from bygone eras, especially books with faded red covers in which the owners have signed their names in the kind of elegant handwriting of which I am incapable.
For example, I have a copy of the illustrated novel “The Rose of Old St. Louis” by Mary Dillon that is set in the era of the Louisiana Purchase. It is signed, “Alice Carpenter 1909.”
And here’s the kicker: “The Rose of Old St. Louis” is available as a Google eBook.
I have another illustrated romance novel about cowboys and cowgirls written by the prolific author William M. Raine in about 1911. Its spine is broken, and some pages are falling out. And its flyleaf is signed by a fellow named James Torrey, whom I’ll never meet.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com