There is something slyly satisfying about being deep in a book and happening upon a literary allusion or a nod to another writer. You stop. You read it again. You feel so darn smart that you got it. And then you look around for someone to share it with.
I spent most of the weekend reading St. Paul author Jim Heynen's new novel, "The Fall of Alice K.," which will be published in the fall by Milkweed Editions. I was cruising along, taking in the story of the Iowa farm girl and her growing romance with a young Hmong man, when Bam! Did that say what I thought it said?
Alice and her boyfriend are planning to go for a drive--away from the small town where everyone knows them, where everyone (except the boyfriend) is Dutch, to a nearby community "where the mailboxes had names like Brekken, Holm, and Rezmerski."
I think when I got to that sentence, I yelled, "Hey!" and then had to go find my husband and read it to him.("You know, Bill Holm, and his wife, Marcy Brekken, and his best friend from grad school, John Calvin Rezmerski.") (He just nodded politely, as any good husband would.)
A few chapters on, there was another, even slyer allusion:
"Mr. Vic also had them read stories by an older guy who grew up around Dutch Center and wrote stories about farm boys. Little tiny stories that were about as long as a sneeze and that some people thought were funny. Mr. Vic said he was the 'Hemingway of farm life.' Ho hum. Alice didn't have much use for this guy's work. Too much animal cruelty. In one of his stories, his farm boys threw live cats from the top of a windmill with homemade parachutes on them."
You probably know who Heynen is really talking about here; the "farm boys" reference is a good hint. If you need to, click on the link to see. And then look around for someone to share it with. Yell, "Hey!" So delicious. Book pubs in September. Watch for it.