Saturday, June 30, 2018

What Blooms From Dust

What Blooms From Dust by James Markert

     The Goodbye family lived in Nowhere, Oklahoma.  Jeremiah and Josiah Goodbye were born and grew up in Nowhere but their lives were just different enough that Jeremiah’s gift of calling out someone through a flip of a coin, and always getting the flip right, was countered with his nightmares.  The nightmares plagued him his whole life and lasted exactly one minute and fifty two seconds.  Josiah held his hand through them everytime.  
     We meet Jeremiah in the electric chair.  Exactly at the moment the switch is flipped, a tornado tears down the jail, killing everyone in the jail but Jeremiah.  The force of the storm releases him from the chair and he walks away toward home.   On the way he buys a child, who was being sold by his mother, for twenty five cents.  Peter is, as we would know now, autistic.  His mother just thinks he’s weird.  Peter gladly comes away with Jeremiah, carrying his typewriter, which he types on constantly, even though he doesn’t have any paper.  Coming home to Nowhere is risky.  It was the sheriff there who sent Jeremiah to jail. 
     The story of the Goodbye family is told through the backdrop of the dust storms which come daily, sometimes more than once a day and finally, the biggest, baddest storm of them all, black, fierce, long and hard sucks what is left of the life and will of the people of Nowhere.  Black Sunday does them in.  They give up.  They become like zombies, hiding in their homes, not cleaning out their homes as storm after storm continues, they begin to starve and don’t care.  We find out what it’s like to live with dust in your nose, lungs, between your teeth, in your clothes, beds, breaking windows, coming in through any tiny way. And it’s scary.  It’s scary to read about but the author puts us there living it.
     After Black Sunday Peter has the answer.
     The Great Depression of the 1930’s has always fascinated me.  Not being mathematically gifted, I could never wrap my head around the economics of it but I could understand drought and land abuse and desperation.  My interest in the Depression was centered mostly on the Dust Bowl, the area of our country that was devastated by drought and because the land had been laid bare, the ensuing dust storms.  The magnitude is hard to imagine. Not everyone left their farms for the promise of what California offered. This story is about hope, stamina, strength, fortitude and stubbornness.  I couldn’t put it down.