The smoked salmon souffle I fixed for supper has a little under 15 minutes left in the oven. In the meantime, before 5 PM today I read Ruth; wrote about Ruth from the mouth of my character Mike Bannock; wrote today’s journal entry; and read the first 4 Chapters of the Catholic book of Tobit. After putting supper in the oven I read the remaining 10 chapters of Tobit, and now I sit waiting for supper. I will reread Tobit before writing my character Mike Bannock’s retelling of Tobit, and then next week I shall read Judith and then reread Judith. I am also thinking about reading the Catholic story of Susannah for Mike, too. Yet I need to fit in my reading of The Complete Folktales of A.N. Afanas’ev. It will be a balancing act between writing “Daddy, Why Do We Go to Church?” for Further Tales from Opossum Creek, and the more important Tales of the Land of the Firebird. This evening I hope to spend some time in front of my TV set (it seems frivolous but the only thing I ever watch is the news), but I hope to read pgs. 270-300 of The Complete Folktales of A.N. Afanas’ev.
It is interesting that poor Mike takes up so much of my time, even after his first story “On the Road but Never Got the Girl” failed to be published a short story or in the form of a story in my collection of stories Poor Folk. However, with the risk of sounding arrogant, Mark Twain wrote at four books with Tom Sawyer as a character. (What, you’ve never heard of Tom Sawyer Detective or Tom Sawyer Abroad) And mystery lovers have Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple.
Later (when I last wrote the buzzer went off on the soufflé).
Like these characters, Mike is more than a mouthpiece for my views. In fact, often he expresses views which are not mine. Mike is Roman Catholic (he converts in his first story), for instance, while I am a Conservative Jew. Mike is politically runs as an Independent in politics while I am a Conservative Democrat. On some issues I admit that Mike shares my lack of comfort in major issues: I am non-committal about abortion; I don’t know whether I am pro-Life or pro-Choice. Occasionally, though, in his anti-New York riffs I find him merely funny whereas in his efforts of trying to save the soul of the prostitute Spider I waffle from finding him a fool or “pretty darned insightful” (as he might put it).
Mike is kind of what used to be called a “cracker” in the Appalachia area of the South, except that he is from Kansas. His hometown is the seedy Opossum Creek, a place which is part residential area, part main street and part trailer park. Though the cynical might count Mike as a kind of “country bumpkin” with his lack of talent as a words smith but flawless good intentions, I see in him a kind of “everyman” if a tad to the right of the political spectrum and living at first as a member of the lower class. In my first story starring Mike, I highlighted things like Quilt Shows and the State Fair, as Mike is trying to make it in politics. A spoiler on the author’s part: he wins the election in his first story. The second spoiler: in the same first story Mike discovers in somebody he knew in school the love of his life. A third spoiler: there will be no divorce, death, or extramarital affair. All of this becomes evident to anyone reading the stories themselves: in some of them he is a politician plying his trade whereas in others he is a hapless husband at the opera or a devoted father teaching his children based on the Catholic Bible.
I hope that some time soon I have Poor Folk published. (I assume that the stories in Further Tales of Opossum Creek invariably have to be read afterwards and therefore be published afterwards.) I have a publisher, they have published my four-volume The Bible According to Eve and my novel Faust in Love. Perhaps if I am lucky, I can unleash Mike Bannock upon the world, my good friend who is, perhaps, not the brightest tool in the shed.