“Nothing happens here.”
- Written by Steve Toltz
- c. 2022, Melville House
- $26.99, 384 pages
So, how’s the weather there? Is it raining, snowing, or continually shining? Are there animals where you are? Do you have homes or hobbies there? Come to think of it, are you awake or are you going to a separate but parallel plane when you die? In Steve Toltz’s new novel “Here Goes Nothing,” those answers may be more than TMI.
The first thing Angus Mooney knew when he woke up was that he was naked.
Naked, in the middle of nowhere, and there was a battle to catch the autorickshaw from… Where? Where was it and where should it be? At last one of the rickshaw drivers told him: He’s dead.
correct. Angus remembers then that he and his wife Gracie were tricked into looking after a man named Owen who had lied to them before moving into their home. When Angus learned of the lies, Owen confessed that he loved Gracie and that he killed Angus right then and there, leaving his body in the trash.
And so, Angus mourned, wherever he was, which seemed to be a place of detention where people still needed to work. That was significant because there was an epidemic on Earth that started with dogs and spread to humans, who were arriving at the dead place in huge numbers. They – who died recently – had to find a place to be before they went to wherever they were going to go later, or something. It seems that no one knows for sure.
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But there was some good news: Gracie was pregnant when Owen killed Angus, and Angus lost his wife and daughter, but he finally knew there was a way to let them see him. his ghost. Whatever it is, but you bet he did everything he could to pay for it.
Then one day, out of his drink, he looked at the tavern of the dead place, and there was Owen. ..
You might already have the impression that “Here Goes Nothing” is kind of weird. And you’re right.
It’s weird, but it’s also irresistible. It’s funny at times and full of pity at others, and there’s enough plot chaos to make you want to know what’s next. Author Steve Toltz’s characters are all evil, from the devious Owen to the crazy neighbor Gracie of Angus, who dies at the beginning of the book.
The plot itself is one thing. Prose is another thing entirely.
Toltz writes sentences that will make you spit your coffee, followed by a phrase that makes you want to bookmark the page so you don’t forget it. Word-obsessed readers, pay attention: the writing itself…wow!
This is probably not a book for everyone; There is profanity here and that’s to say the least. However, if you want a funny novel that’s a little on the wild side, say “Here Goes Nothing.” Yeah, that’s weird but you’ll survive it just fine.
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“New Black West”
- By Gabriella Haspon, Forward by Jeff Doville, Regional Coordinator, Bill Beckett Rodeo Invitation
- c. 2022, Chronicle Books
- $40, 128 pages
Things definitely look different from five feet tall. The first time, you might feel nervous to be there; The animal you are watching does not know you and you do not know what it will do. But after a long time, you will feel like you are in a rocking chair. You can almost see for miles and begin to understand the force. And in Gabriella Haspon’s new book, The New Black West, you get a peek of history between the ears of a horse.
One hundred and sixty years ago, “more than eight thousand black cowboys rode on western cattle treks.” They did everything every other hand on the farm and cowboys did at the time, but “their stories were pretty much untold…”
In 1984, a promoter named Le Fasson once realized that the “grandfather of them all,” the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, was lacking in black rodeos. Returning to his Denver home, Fasson began researching and raising funds to start the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, named after “legendary” Bill Pickett, the turn-of-the-century cowboy who was the first black cowboy to enter the rodeo’s Hall of Fame. To this day, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, now taking place the second weekend of July in Oakland, California, is the only round of black rodeos in America.
But not all robin “rides”.
The deep tradition of riding horses and pulling calves is also passed down to troubled youngsters, said Hasbun, through the stables and participating organizations. A rodeo is a chance to show off your horse, saddle, boots, and bling because you want to be “impressively dressed” if you’re on the show. It’s a great excuse to spend a day with the horses, and to share that love with rodeo watchers who want to learn too. Rodeo is a challenge and a way to honor those who have accepted this challenge in the past. It is a way to “change addresses”.
The Rodeo is a family.
For many readers, “The New Black West” may not be like any other book you own.
There is not much to read here, first of all. Instead, author and illustrator Gabriella Haspon offers a sweet “artist’s manifesto” explaining African American cowboys in the history and the beginnings of Bill Pickett’s Invitational Rodeo, and has written short captions for the images in this book, but that’s all there is to read.
In this sense, Hasbun lets the illustrations speak for themselves.
Browse this book and meet the men and women who are grateful for the horse that changed the course of their lives. Look at the gorgeous display-worthy apparel, bespoke (designer!) saddles, and (craftsman) shoes made of snakeskin. Then don’t be surprised at all if you find yourself looking for tickets, so you can see these things up front and in person this summer.
This is a book that you will read over and over again, and you will never tire of doing it. It’s a game that you can share with kids and maybe even inspire them. The “New Black West” is something pleasantly different.
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The bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and doesn’t go anywhere without a book. Terry lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read previous columns at marconews.com.