Review: A Good Man by Larry Baker
Before I begin to tell you about A Good Man, I must confess that I wrote a review for this book when I first read it in October, but when I looked back at it, I realized I did not quite do this wonderful book justice. So, please consider this a review redux.
I was fortunate enough to have this book introduced to me- by the author himself- at the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) trade show last September. The author, Larry Baker was behind a table featuring his newest release, and as I passed by, he called me over, introduced himself and began to tell me about the genesis of the central character of his book- Harry Ducharme.
For lack of a more apt description, Harry Ducharme is the literary love child of Flannery O’Conner and singer, Harry Chapin. To be more exact, Baker drew his inspiration for Harry Ducharme from at least one Flannery O’Conner story: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and the story telling through songs of Harry Chapin. Baker tells the story of when he was initially writing A Good Man- that Harry was not intended to be the central character. Initially, he had wanted to write about a charlatan preacher, much like Elmer Gantry. However, while writing a pivotal scene in the book, Baker found the true voice of A Good Man- Harry Ducharme.
Harry Ducharme is a man who arrives in St. Augustine, Florida after having burnt all his person and professional bridges. He has gone from the A-list of talk radio to talking his way into a job at the quirky little St. Augustine station, WWHD. Harry joins a roster of unique and odd personalities on WWHD in the summer of 2000: The morning man, Captain Jack, a man that holds political views slightly to the right of Rush Limbaugh, who along with his parrot, Jimmy Buffet pontificates on the events of the day. Then there is the mysterious and alluring (especially to Harry) woman who does a cooking show from her home, Nora James-someone known by many but seen by few. Last but not least-there is Carlos Freidman. His claim to fame is that he is on the verge of landing an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, at least in his own mind.
In the summer of 2000, Harry rounds out this motley crew by taking the overnight slot. In the beginning, he reads literary selections, discourses on random thoughts and eventually starts interviewing authors. He goes from wondering if anyone is listening to him to achieving a small yet comfortable acclaim in his newly adopted corner of the world.
Apart from some moments of upheaval and discontent, Harry’s life has settled into a somewhat comfortable routine. On a September night in 2007, in the midst of a hurricane, Harry receives a visitor at the radio station during his show that upsets that comfortable routine. A man arrives, calling himself Peter Prophet, a traveling minister of sorts. Harry, suspicious of organized religion and especially evangelical types, sets out to prove the man is a charlatan. During the course of their interview, Harry has his cynicism challenged and his sense of reality shaken. Before they are done talking to each other that evening, Prophet has provided a glimpse into Harry’s past and a daring view into a future that he proclaims Harry is destined to be part of.
A Good Man is a wonderfully crated story that reflects on many hard topics such as politics, 9/11, the Iraq War, and religion, but it is also the story of how important small moments and gestures can be in the fabric of our lives. However, the true essence of the story lies in its characters- Harry, and all those who become a part of his life and his journey to become what he is sure he can never be… a good man.
Review by Brenda Seward
Simple Pleasures Books & Gifts
Please join us on Saturday, March 20th from 1-3 pm at Ashland Coffee & Tea, 100 N. Railroad Ave, Ashland, Va. 23005 (804-798-1702) when Simple Pleasures Books & Gifts presents An Afternoon with Larry Baker. Larry will be on hand to discuss his book and sign copies of A Good Man (available for purchase on site). Larry will also be shooting photos and video for his upcoming documentary on the book business.
For more information about this event and others like it, visit us at: www.simplepleasuresbooksandgifts.com