I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just Press Play

The Mountain Between Us: A NovelI'm devouring The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. The novel is about two people – a doctor named Ben Payne and a writer named Ashley Knox – who take a charter flight from Salt Lake City to Denver one night to avoid a major snow storm headed their direction. The pilot has a heart attack, dies, and the plane crashes in the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. The bulk of the book is about Ben and Ashley's fight for survival.

Ben is separated from his wife. Ashley was supposed to be married shortly after they landed. You can't help but wonder if, during their fight to live, they are going to fall for one another. Something tells me they might think about it, but not act. Why? Because Ben has a tradition he continues while in survival mode – he records messages on a recorder for his wife to hear. He tells her about their condition, about their fight to live, and he retells her their love story in minute detail. He recalls the butterflies he felt when they first met and the beautiful way they grew as one.

Here's a blurb from the book that explains it. Ben is talking, but he's recalling his wife's words when she gave him the recorder initially:

"I gave you this thing so I can be with you even when I'm not. Because I miss the sound of your voice when you're away. And ... I want you to miss mine. Miss me. I'll keep it a day or two, tell you what I'm thinking, then give it to you. We can pass it back and forth. Sort of like a baton. Besides, I've got to compete with all those pretty nurses who will be swooning over you. I'll have to beat them off you with a stick. Or stethoscope. Ben ... " Your tone of voice changed. From serious to playful. "If you need to hear someone swoon, get weak in the knees, flushed in the face ... play doctor ... just press PLAY. Deal?"

Martin talks more about it in this video:

Narrative Device from Author Charles Martin on Vimeo.

Running across this passage reminded me that my dad and I used to do this very same thing. He would be on the road, selling paint somewhere, and he'd record a message to me, drop it in the mail, and I couldn't wait to listen to it. I remember one such tape Dad recorded on May 13, 1981. I only remember that because it was the day Pope John Paul II was shot and I remember what Dad said on the tape.

"The news is saying someone shot the Pope. What a hell of a thing that is. First they shot Reagan, now they shot the Pope. Was is this world coming to?"

Having Dad's running social commentary in all its authenticity made me feel close to him even though he was hundreds of miles away. I can't imagine saying anything earth shattering in my return tapes to him, but I'm sure he enjoyed listening to me talk about my tennis matches at school, my girlfriend, and whatever else teenage boys talk about.

I have no idea what ever became of those tapes, but I would give anything to put my hands on one of them right now.


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