The Whole Town's Talking
"What can I tell you about the town? I suppose if you had
driven through it back then, it might have looked like just another
ordinary small town...but it wasn't. I was born and raised there, so
I know exactly what I am talking about. It wasn't a wealthy town,
either, but we all stuck together. And when we heard what happened to
Hanna Marie, everybody was upset. We all talked about it. Everybody
vowed to do something about it. But never, in our wildest dreams,
would anybody have guessed who would actually be the one to do it.
Or, more importantly, how they would do it. But to tell you more at
this point might spoil the surprise. And who doesn't like a good
surprise? I know I do."
In this one paragraph prologue to The Whole Town's Talking, fans
of Fannie Flagg will detect her unique literary voice, made famous in
Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe. I have heard the book
alluded to as being in the tradition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town.
Close, but no cigar. I'd say an Our Town/Saturday Night Live hybrid
with touches of Leave It To Beaver and Footloose thrown in for good
measure. It tells the story of a town and its inhabitants--the good,
the bad, and the ugly--over a more than a century time span.
The story starts out with a Swedish immigrant, Lordor Nordstrom,
who settled on a promising piece of land in Missouri and called for
his countrymen to join him. He designed a planned community. One of
his first designations was the carefully chosen spot for a town
cemetary. Between 1890 and 1900 the population more than doubled from
the original 74 inhabitants. The town was named Elmwood Springs.
Merchants and professionals were invited to set up shop.
"All over the West and Midwest, small communities once called
Little Poland or Little Italy or German Town were changing their
names, becoming more American, and hoping to grow. Elmwood Springs
was lucky. Within the year, they had a doctor, a barber who could
pull teeth if necessary, and one Lutheran preacher named Edwin
Wimsbly. Not too fiery, as requested."
Era by era the town evolves as it and its inhabitants respond to
internal events as well at influences of the world at large.
Electricity arrives at the turn of the century. Movies give school
girls new dreams. Downtown grows. Soldiers go off to war.
As in Our Town, the unique and colorful characters of the fine
ensemble cast are born, grow up, and die. But what happens when they
arrive at Still Meadows, the maybe not so final resting place
established by the town founder, is one of the biggest surprises.
The Whole Town's Talking is a must read for Fannie Flag fans and
anyone who enjoys books rich in time and place and sweeping in
On a personal note, tomorrow is going to be a very important day for
Orono, Maine. We're going to dedicate the outdoor extension of the
almost nine year old public library. It took a lot of work and fund
raising to bring this dream to fruition. Then Rick Charette himself
is going to perform in the outdoor ampitheater. As if that wasn't
more than enough the day will be capped off with Artsapalooza.
Downtown venues from restaurants to churches and the firehouse lawn
will be alive with performances. Yours truly will be reading my
poetry for 40 minutes at Harvest Moon. It will be a day and night to
A great big shout out goes out to all participants.
Sent from my iPod