When someone enriches your mind, it’s very overwhelming and amazing and can’t be put into words. However, this is my feeble attempt to do just that – pay homage to a fabulous and wonderful writer. I hope to do him justice, without causing embarrassment.
We all have our favorite writers. When I was a kid, Laura Ingalls Wilder dragged me along the prairie. I gathered eggs and firewood with her, froze with her in the meager cabins that sheltered them from bitter and harsh winters, and cried when her sister Mary went blind. As an adult, Rick Bragg makes me laugh at the impoverished rural people of the South and the situations which befall them (simply because I can relate), and I even cry at their heartache, grit, and loneliness. Now, I found another author who affects me just as much but in different ways.
Eddie Stack takes me on magnificent journeys to far away places, journeys which always include cast after cast of humorous, flawed, and down-right crazy characters full of the quirks we all possess (some to a larger degree than others). Borderlines is the title of his latest work. In addition to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rick Bragg, Eddie Stack is now in my category of favorite writers.
Places I’ve visited include: a classroom inside a monastery, a psychiatrist’s office, Irish pubs and streets, a train station, a living room of a downtrodden wife, a bedroom of a confused wife, a wild and wet carnival, an Irish cottage, a riverbank where boys fish, a dole office, and so many more places; places which may remain physically foreign to me, but not foreign in my mind. Not anymore. Not only do I get to go to wonderful and exotic new places via this writer, my emotions tag along on a roller-coaster of experiences. I love the characters, hate the characters, both empathize AND sympathize with them. I laugh with them, cry with them, get mad with them, cuss with them, and find myself saying aloud, “Oh no you didn’t,” when a character surprises me!
All writers have his or her voice, that “something special,” that specific and personal creativity, that “way with words” which no one else can claim. Stephen King. James Lee Burke. Nicholas Sparks. I could list many more. If you’re a reader, then you have your favorite authors. As a fan of each of these writers, I love their individual styles. Yet, I don’t wish to write like they do. I treasure my own voice, my own writing style. Whatever it is, it’s mine and belongs to no one else. In the thousands, and I do mean thousands, of books I’ve read in my life, only three writers have ever made me think, “Man, I wish I could write like that.” One I won’t reveal (it’s my secret), the others are Sam Shepard (yes, THAT Sam Shepard - the one from The Right Stuff) and Eddie Stack.
The rhythm of sentences flows like subtle poetry, the kind of poetry you don’t even realize IS poetry until someone tells you. The diversity of sentence lengths keeps your attention. Some are long. Some are short. The vivid, spot-on descriptions – never too much, never too little - are always perfect. Action comes from all over in his stories. Funny action. Silly action. Romantic action. Mean action. It’s all there. The masterful use of alliteration, similes, and metaphors are as soothing as a hot bath. The foreign word choices from a different culture pulls me in like a magnet drawn to metal. I cannot get enough of the humor, the dark situations, the crazy chaos, the surprises, the realness, the fresh takes on ordinary circumstances, the twists, or especially the Irish jargon. Yes, sometimes it confuses me, but I figure it out. It’s so awesome! (Wait...I’m wondering if I should use words like mighty or brilliant here, instead of awesome?)
Sometimes I read so fast (and don’t absorb the material, the situation, the conversation, the “whatever the hell is going on”), just to get to the end of the page and turn and see what happens next that I’m lost because I don’t understand what I just read. Who said what? What did they do? Wait? What’s happening? My eyes simply skim to get to the end. It’s ridiculous! The writing is so good and smooth, that my eyes and brain unconsciously trick me. But I don’t mind having to go back and reread. By this time, I’m a kid in a candy store trying to decide if I want a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or a Three Musketeers (and both are my favorite!). In other words, it’s ALL good.
The way Eddie Stack writes about the Irish, in no way demeans or belittles. A quiet pride smiles between the words and peeks out in his prose. The way Laura Ingalls Wilder shares being poor, and the way Rick Bragg discusses southern living, neither writer ever offends because you can relate if you’ve ever been in similar circumstances. Eddie Stack does the same thing. Although I can’t relate to Irish living, I get the same easy and comfortable feelings from his work. To remember people, to talk about them, to write about them is the best homage one can pay, and as bizarre as the stories are, I’m sure his fiction is rooted in at least a little bit of reality, which is why the stories are so golden.
So, if you are inclined to be carried away to funny lives, fanatical pubs, desperate people doing desperate things, sadness, elation, wild and real characters, or even if you wish for a new and colorful vocabulary, I encourage you – no I beg you – to read Eddie Stack’s work. He offers free stories on his website if you would like to sample the fabric first before buying yards of it. I am beyond thrilled to both endorse and support his work and consider myself a fan for life.
Visit his website at www.eddiestack.com where you can find links to all his work. Plus, not only does he cater to paperback readers, he offers ebooks and spoken word stories as well.
Photos snatched from his website! But I snagged the picture of Borderlines off the Internet! :)