Search This Blog

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will They Just Think I’ve Lost My Marbles?

We certainly would have looked crazy if Lisa and I had followed our original plan to decorate Northport this morning with cornstalks and scarecrows. Wind and pouring rain! Here it is in a few different places north of M-204, which was my second destination this morning after coffee at Stone House Bread. But that's not what I'm talking about.

Leelanau trial lawyer Dean Robb, his wife Cindy Robb and I have finally, you see, set a firm date for Dean’s appearance at Dog Ears Books. The party is for his memoir (release date: Oct. 1), Dean Robb: An Unlikely Radical, actually written by Dean and Cindy’s son, Matthew, after he and his dad took a road trip together through the South and visited many places where Dean had done civil rights work back in the Sixties.

I’m reading the page proofs now, while waiting for the book to arrive from the printer, and while I’ve only gotten to Dean’s high school years I’m already enthralled. He was born in a farmhouse in a place called Lost Prairie, Illinois. There wasn’t even a town, but isn’t that a great place name? Lost Prairie! And he had very much the kind of rural, interdependent, kids-contributing community growing-up I just blogged about the other day in connection with a couple of youth novels, one from the Forties, the other from the Sixties. At age seven, Dean was driving a team of mules pulling a haywagon! Well, I don’t want to give away too much, even of the early years. The important date, before I forget, is Saturday, October 9, and the time is from 6-8 p.m. That’s at Dog Ears Books, 106 Waukazoo Street in Northport. We’ll have the books, we’ll have refreshments, Dean will be there to sign books, and if we’re very lucky Matt could be on hand, also, but he’s teaching downstate, so his presence is not yet certain.

So, anyway, I went to the office of the Leelanau Enterprise this morning to arrange for advertising, and Joy was very helpful, as always, but she did look askance at some of my wording, the part where I begin the ad with “Dean Robb, appearing as himself....” Even after I reminded her that Dean has had a sideline for years as an entertainer, impersonating Mark Twain, no smiling gleam of recognition broke over her face, and now I’m wondering: Will anyone get it? Is it too obscure? Will I just sound and look like a fool? It’s an allusion, it’s an allusion! Or is a delusion, a self-delusion, and I my own victim?

Well, as Dean says on his answering machine message (still an old message from August, telling people to come see him impersonate Mark Twain at the Port Oneida Fair), “I’ll probably make a fool of myself, but I’ve done it before.” Not necessarily true for him, it’s certainly true for me.

Without giving away any of the book’s content, I want to share some of the quotes from the book’s cover, testimonials to the fact, if anyone needs reminding, that Dean really is a Leelanau Legend and more:

Jim Harrison: “...a thoroughly amazing book about a thoroughly amazing man I’ve known for over thirty years.”

Helen Milliken: “A powerful insight into the last half century of our tumultuous times.”

Gerry Spence: “I find true heroes hidden where true heroes reside, engaged endlessly in their need to fight for justice without the clamor and pomp of publicity. Dean Robb is a true hero.”

Geoffrey Fieger: “...the humanitarian and trial warrior for the damned, the lost, and the forgotten I have always aspired to be.”

Michael Moore and Kathleen Glynn: “Dean Robb was and is fearless, relentless, compassionate and the Great Defender of the people who otherwise have no voice.”

The book is 336 pages, hardcover, priced at $24.95. Payment to Dog Ears Books is by cash or check.


Anonymous said...


P. J. Grath said...

Rats! I'll have some 'splainin' to do. Should have consulted you first, Gerry.

Deborah said...

Lost Prairie is a Flat in Perry County Illinois. It lies between the towns of Sparta and Pinckneyville off IL 154. I-57 S to Rend Lake (about 1/2 way between Mt. Vernon and Marion) then west on I-54. Probably more than anyone needs to know! Definitely IL prairie and still rural. Wish I could be there Oct. 9th! Book sounds fascinating and I'm anxious to read it.

P. J. Grath said...

Dean went to a one-room school until high school, then to h.s. in Pinckneyville--which, in that era, was famous for basketball. There was no town to Lost Prairie, just scattered farms. But you would love reading this book, Deborah! I'm halfway through now, and the action has moved to Detroit....