OF MOOSE AND MEN, The Saga of Teagartin and Crowfeather
• Where do you come up with this stuff???
Over the years I’ve been asked about various songs I’ve written (yes, I’m a songwriter too), and I always feel ill-equipped to respond to this perennial question. Just as many people ask, “How do you come up with this stuff? It’s a hard thing to answer, partly because there seems to be a mysterious process at work during the act of creation, something that vaguely gives me the feeling that it doesn’t just come from me, but I’m hesitant to speculate as to where else it may originate. Suffice it to say, that I am cautious in ascribing myself as the absolute origin of any creation. To write, or engage in any creative process is to embrace mystery. Having said that, I would suspect that most of us are capable of being creative in various ways that we have never explored, but perhaps our thinking, or attitudes, or self-concept gets in the way. I’m not always aware of it at the time, but when I write I am inevitably putting forth something that relates to me in some way or another, and I am in some way open to the inspiration coming to me that expresses this feeling, sentiment, opinion, or whatever it is that is coming from me. Some people are stuck with the attitude, ‘I’m just not a creative person, like you are…’, or, ‘that’s just not me…’ , and they may be short-changing themselves, or holding themselves back. Then again, this may be an accurate self-concept for others, but nonetheless I would urge anyone to write down their thoughts, feelings and inspirations. You may be surprised what comes forth out of you if you are open to it. I am certainly no more inspired than anyone out there. The difference is that I am open to the inspiration, and my attitudes about myself don’t get in the way. That’s not to say that I don’t have a plethora of other self-limiting attitudes (my wife could give you a mouthful), but that’s another subject for another time.
• But why this particular book? What does the title mean?
The subtitle, The Saga of Teagartin and Crowfeather, is a reference to the two characters in the story that I consider to be central. I suppose that they are representative of two extremes in all of us, the part of us that is strictly drawn toward worldly endeavors, and the other part, dormant in a lot of us, that is drawn toward that which is other-worldly. The magnate and the mystic. It was suggested to me by my publisher that the original title, Teagartin and Crowfeather, was boring, and should be changed. Well, I was open to changing it, and did so in a manner as to preserve the original title in a subtitle. Alas, however, there may be those who think the new title is boring, so I am inviting you to provide me with a better one. Suggestions, anyone? I would like to point out that there is precedent in literature for naming a work after characters in the book, examples being Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, or The Brothers Karamazov. I am not, in any way, suggesting that my first work of fiction measures up to these treasures, but just pointing out that this has been done for some time. Perhaps people are expecting something in the way of a title with more pizzazz, or chutzpah, or something that reminds contemporary readers of an exciting contemporary phenomenon. Who knows? It doesn’t necessarily have to even relate to what’s in the book, I hear some of you say… it just has to get the reader’s attention! Okay, well since none of you have read the book yet anyway, here’s your chance to come up with a title! I suppose I am being somewhat flippant, but the title I have now is the best thing I’ve been able to come up with that expresses what I would refer to as the ‘soul’ of the work. I am, however, open to suggestions for a change in title. Any takers?
• Why would I want to invest time reading this thing?
First of all, it’s a quick read – under 200 pages. You could probably sit down and read it in a few hours, depending on how fast a reader you are. Whether you’d want to read it also depends upon what kind of fiction you may like. I would describe the work as being an 'allegorical fantasy', with elements of realism, as well as the supernatural, in it. The main characters consist of a fabulously wealthy aristocrat (Teagartin) who has disappeared into the wilderness and allegedly tamed a cadre of animal ‘disciples’; a herd of moose who act as foil to the aristocrat’s ambitions; a snake in cahoots with the aristocrat; a half-native American private investigator who is investigating the aristocrat’s whereabouts (Crowfeather); Crowfeather's mother with Alzheimer's Disease; a burned-out clergyman who has hired the investigator; a shy young woman from rural America who has won the state lottery; the lottery winner’s alcoholic father; two desperate musicians who have kidnapped the lottery winner; a journalist with a vendetta who is also looking for the aristocrat; and finally, an ethereal character who works on an unseen level. What I have just described may generate curiosity in some, and perhaps tedium in others, thereby, hopefully, answering whether you, in particular, may want to read this thing.
• Is there a message to this story?
Yes. I have three cats who live with my wife and me. When they need shelter, they have a roof over their heads. When they need food and drink, they go to their food and water bowls under that roof. When they need affection, they curl up on the laps of the two of us and are gently stroked. I find it sad that animals are often treated with more compassion than humans, that there are countless human beings out there in our affluent country, whose needs for shelter, sustenance, and human warmth, aren’t being met. That’s not to say that there aren’t social service agencies that are trying to address their needs. But what do we often do when these folks come to us for shelter, sustenance, or someone who cares? Our tendency is to shove forms in their face, and it is no wonder that a lot of homeless people, drug addicts and illegal aliens would rather stay underground than seek help. I don’t know about you, but the allure of living underground is a lot more powerful in me than the attraction of being institutionalized. Many of us are too side-tracked by our own selfish needs to notice when someone is hurting or in need. So what is the message of this work of fiction? The message is that the only way we can seek truth and freedom, and thereby find out who we really are, is through personal self-sacrifice. Enough said. This will either be attractive to you, or it won’t.
We are all different, and this is good, and intended to be. If the only thing you tend to read is technical manuals, then I wouldn’t recommend reading Of Moose and Men. If, however, you are drawn to stories with an edifying message, then give it a try. Your choice.