Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Carrying Albert Home"

Homer Hickam is the bestselling and award-winning author of many books, including the #1 New York Times memoir Rocket Boys, which was adapted into the popular film October Sky. A writer since grade school, he is also a Vietnam veteran, a former coal miner, a scuba instructor, an avid amateur paleontologist, and a retired engineer.

Hickam applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of A Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator, and reported the following:
Carrying Albert Home is a family legend about my parents, Homer (Sr.) and Elsie Hickam, and told by them over decades. When I first heard their various stories of Albert and how they carried him (along with a rooster) from West Virginia to Florida in the backseat of an old Buick during the Great Depression, I just thought I was hearing tales of youthful misadventure. That was true but it turns out the family legend of Albert is a bit more. When I put their stories together sequentially for the purposes of my novel, I discovered that my parents had actually sent me a message from their present location which I am fairly certain is heaven. Rather than being a story of an outlandish road trip, Carrying Albert Home was nothing less than their explanation of why they stayed together during sixty years of marriage while essentially not agreeing on much of anything. It was, of course, all because of love, that inadequate word that describes the most marvelous and least understood of human emotions.

Page 69 of Carrying Albert Home which naturally flows into page 70 is a tiny slice of one of my parents' stories about their great journey south. In this one, Homer and Elsie have been waylaid by radicals who are determined to blow up a sock mill in North Carolina. Homer is a victim of mistaken identity. The radicals think he's the Coal Miner, a radical bomb-maker. Elsie, Albert, and the Rooster are off-screen on page 69 along with their passenger, a young writer named John Steinbeck, but I think the page holds up. I think after reading it, a reader will be intrigued enough to go back to the beginning and enjoy the novel that now has 14 international publishers, will be a Reader's Digest condensed novel, and already the recipient of many literary awards.
Visit Homer Hickam's website.

My Book, The Movie: Carrying Albert Home.

Writers Read: Homer Hickam.

--Marshal Zeringue