This Is What I Want by Craig Lancaster (5 out of 5)
I met Craig Lancaster- on Facebook. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but I hope someday he winds up in the Windy City to do some book signings or what not, so I get to shake his hand in person. How do you just randomly meet an author on Facebook? Well, if you’re a long-time bookseller, this happens more frequently that one would think. However, a year and half ago, I was browsing through Amazon one day and typed in “Duran Duran” under books to see if anything new came up. And something did. It was a book called “Friends Of Mine:Thirty Years In the Life Of A Duran Duran Fan” by Elisa Lorello. I found Elisa on Facebook and sent her a friend request, we talked about Amazon, self-publishing, and more importantly than that, all things Duran. She sent me an autographed copy of the book. I read that book. I loved it. I love Elisa. I frequently discuss odd things with her on Facebook; usually Duran, chocolate, or the wonders of non-stick aluminum foil. I think the world of her. And her book. Here’s my original review of it: https://generationgbooks.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/friends-of-mine-thirty-years-in-the-life-of-a-duran-duran-fan-by-elisa-lorello-5-out-of-5/
And here’s the book itself:
Anyway, I began to cross paths with Craig on Elisa’s page. He was a fellow author and a friend of hers. I friend requested him, he accepted, and make no mistake, a nice guy and funny as hell. I am ashamed it has taken me this long to get around to reviewing one of his books, but I’m glad it’s his most recent one and that I have it up on the recommends at the store (I do, as of yesterday morning). Also, I am a firm believer in better late than never, so here goes. I have to preface this review by saying that I had a real bad night Sunday. Some things that are not going well in my family haven’t been good in awhile, but Sunday night, just a frustrating night. I haven’t cried myself to sleep since May over this, and there I was, bawling my eyes out. Most people cry themselves to sleep- NOT this one! It wakes up the sleeping insomniac and I’m UP! So I picked up the book that I was a third of a way through- This Is What I Want. Three hours later, I was done. And not only did it take my mind off of reality, it put me in a different frame of mind on everything. I really am glad that I picked his book up at that time, because it helped me get into a better mood. So thank you, Craig, for that!
Grandview, Montana is preparing for its big annual Jamboree. It’s an event that celebrates the town and those who live in the town. This is a town that used to pride itself on its sense of community; now there’s a deep, dark stranger in paradise; the smell of big oil money. Grandview is changing, and with it, those who have lived and loved in this town for decades. The Kelvig family is going through such pitfalls- Sam the head of the family, is opposed to the changes wrought by the addition of oil money to Grandview, and it seems like he won’t stop at anything to keep it from ruining what has been his peace and solitude for many years. His wife Patricia is just looking for some loving and attention from her husband, who feels so deeply and strongly for what’s going on in their small town, that he often appears to not feel so deeply and strongly for his wife; alas, there’s a big problem in this marriage. Norby, the son who returns home, despite his family’s unwillingness to accept his sexuality. Henrik, Sam’s brother, is an opportunist extraordinaire and often appears on the make at all times. Blanche, the head of the entire clan, is getting up in years and wants only peace and quiet, when all that’s going on around her is drama, drama, drama. When you have that many little storm clouds on the horizon and a cold front moving in fast, one big hell of a storm is likely to fire up- and it does. This book doesn’t only talk about the effects of the money (remember, folks, it IS the root of all evil) on the town, but on the Kelvigs, their neighbors, and the town residents. This could happen Anywhere, USA. The fact that it’s written about so realistically and while tugging on the heartstrings, well, not all stories get a happy ending. As well as a long, hard look at the lives of those intimately involved. Happily, not the case here with Lancaster’s book. You feel like you’re close, personal friends of all of the Kelvigs and all of the denizens of Grandview, Montana. He writes so passionately about the town that you can’t help but give a shit. And you do, and that’s another reason I loved this book so much. I read a book last week about moving to a new, solitary town and how it’s a balm to the solve, but that book completely half-assed it. Lancaster does no such thing. You can see and feel his love and appreciation for Grandview (and Montana) in the pages of the novel, and in how the residents view it. You feel like you want to move there! As far as reality in the family and what each individual is going through personally and in conjunction with the changes shaping Grandview after the money arrives into the town coffers, it’s handled like the book- with care, with love, and with undying devotion to the joy that Grandview has brought to all of them. There is never any question that the Kelvigs love Grandview, despite the fact that some of their personal problems often interfere with their thoughts on the town (Patricia, in particular, you feel would resent the town more, given that it is,in fact, her husband’s mistress. At least, that’s how this reader felt reading from her viewpoint). Tensions do fester and worlds collide, and in the end, well, you have to read it to see what happens to Grandview and its residents.
I didn’t have a hard time getting into this. I think if you grew up in a small town (Willow Springs, represent, yo!), you can completely get into how Lancaster writes the comings and goings of those in this small Montana town. The descriptions of the town and its residents should mirror some of the people you grew up with. Come on, most small towns, at some point, undergo changes. Perhaps not to the extent that Lancaster paints this landscape with, but enough that the reader can sit there and go “Shit, I remember when (insert your small town name) changed all of this around”, etc, etc. It happened in my small town- when the moral landscape and political fly-by-nights took over and corrupt cops ruled. Sadly, it still goes on in that town. If you’ve lived in a small town, you’ll get it. If you haven’t, you may have a bit of an adjustment getting used to how the story moves along, the introductions to multiple characters, etc. Think of it as a MMRPG (Massive Multiple Role Playing Game… or something close. I forget!), but on paper. Or if you read digitally, on a screen. It doesn’t matter how you read it, or how fast you read it, as long as you read it. And you should! I think it would be an excellent book club pick. I can imagine all sorts of discussions at suburban book clubs about this book. I hope to encourage people at my store to give it a whirl. Of course, I’ll be letting Craig know on FB when I do manage to accomplish this. For I intend to!
Overall, not much I can say in the way of dissension with this book. I enjoyed it tremendously, and I think you would also, dear reader. So go pick up a copy! It’s a nicely bound quality (trade, oversize, call it any of the arbitrary bookseller terms) paperback with a great cover. It’s published by Lake Union Publishing, and clocks in around 350 pages, so it won’t take a “Gone With The Wind” amount of time to read this. Figure a good book to take on a plane trip from New York or New Jersey to Montana. Yes, indeed.