Author: Kenny Miller

Publisher: Little Creek Publishing


                                     Down Memory Lane

Simple lives, simple stories,

Simple moments of sadness and pain

Extremely commonplace and uncomplicated

Thousands of memories long forgotten

Ripple daily up to the surface

Accompanied with a few underlying tears.

No imposing descriptions are these

No eventful life stories

Nor sophisticated paraphernalia or teachings.

Within the heart lies a kernel of unsatisfied completion

A feeling that after all is over

The end is no longer the end.”

                                          ----  Rabindranath Tagore

This little poem was the first thing I thought of when I read this book. So I had to translate it, keeping in mind that translations are seldom faithful. As Tagore used to say “the vitamins get lost” somewhere. Yet, the essence of this book,  its gestalt has been captured in this poem.

This book captures the spirit of the time and place that was small town Hartington, Nebraska in the 1960’s and could serve as a nostalgia trip for many who were raised under similar circumstances all over the world. Small town inhabitants know each other well and are usually there for each other, thus forming a united front against the vagaries of “the outside world” of Nature and other power    structures. So we get to see vignettes of the author’s family life, starting with his contracting polio, going on to his contact with an old gardener, Christmas and community celebrations, with special emphasis on the food that was prepared for the occasion, a summer holiday when he built a boat with his friend and how they tried to catch a particularly elusive fish (read the book to find out if they did), experiences as a Scout leader, his first job at a grocery store, being selected to play in an orchestra and more. True to the fact that all life is intertwined with death, the Grim Reaper also makes his appearance in a couple of beautifully crafted episodes.

JFK, the darling of the USA, also makes his appearance in the book.

One aspect of this book that considerably enhances its readability is that the author  consistently refers to himself as “the boy.” This is an interesting experiment in writing, it adds to the poignancy of the prose, giving it a surreal touch and making it more evocative as well.                                   

The book has been  meant for bedtime reading, but I could have enjoyed reading it at any time of the day, especially during a long, lazy summer afternoon. This book gives the reader a feel of a community that is truly the “salt of the earth”.  It is a way of life that is well on its way to being winnowed out by modern ways of living.

Given the problems of everyday existence today when terrorists pose an ever increasing threat, it is in our collective interest to rediscover the community spirit that is described in this book.

Warmly recommended to one and all.