Monday, July 30, 2012

Great Storytellers

I write romance. I love to read romance. So people wrinkle their noses at me when I name Louis L'amour, Dean Koontz, and Phillip Dick among my favorite writers. I defend these three guys, however, as real romantics. Their wonderful stories usually have a love story.

First, L'amour. Anyone who reads Connagher without a catch in her throat misses the point of that story. It's a western about a widow who runs a stage stop and a cowboy who works cattle drives. They don't acknowledge their love until the last page, but it's a romance. I'm still mad at L'amour for dying. I miss his books.

Dean Koontz cut his writing teeth on romance by writing genre romances under the pseudonym Leigh Nichols. Wonderful stuff, but my favorite of his romance novels is written under the name Dean Koontz. Lightning. It's a beautiful love story that happens to be a science fiction time travel. The hero keeps jumping through time to save her. Love this story!

Finally, the late Phillip Dick. Though not the best writer I've read, he had an amazing imagination and came up with great story ideas, most of which contained a romance. If you aren't familiar with Dick as a writer, perhaps you've seen movies based on his stories: Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), Next (The Golden Man), and The Adjustment Bureau (Adjustment Team).  Romance!

Just remember you can venture beyond the romance section of the bookstore and still find romance. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Baby Boomers Love Chicago ♫

I just got Chicago IX Chicago's Greatest Hits CD and am listening to it as I write this post. These eleven hits are from the band's earlier days. I love their music, and I finally get why.

I was in college when Chicago Transit Authority (or CTA) hit it big with Make Me Smile, but the song title says it all. It was 1970 or so, and most of the music getting airplay was depressing. Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town and Galveston, for example, were anti-war songs. One Tin Soldier had become the generation's anthem (downer!), and we had our fill of songs like Eve of Destruction. Simon and Garfunkle and Bob Dylan seemed incapable of recording a happy song. Then came Chicago (they shortened their name after their first hit).

Oh happy day! Rock and roll meets brass orchestra pop. It was pure pleasure, and it made me smile. When you look back at the music of that era, you can't deny that Chicago's music was a turning point for the generation. Chicago paved the way for other upbeat artists, like Elton John and Billy Joel (who had a few depressing tunes but most are positive), ABBA, Paul McCartney and Wings and eventually disco. Even if you hated disco, you couldn't stand still for it. It was happy, fun, foot-tapping music.

So excuse me while I return to my nostalgic trip with Chicago. It's a harmless escape, one I highly recommend.