The most compelling response I find to writing a book is engaging with the reaction to it. That can be as simple as a long-time family member saying: “I didn’t know you did that.” It may be a longer discussion about a common interest a reader found, but one of the most enjoyable responses is from another writer. The other writers know what it is like to be inspired to write, put forth the energy and creativity to do it, and then find some success at it.
So I was pleased to read Joel Sanberg’s review in US Review. https://www.theusreview.com/reviews/Re-Making-the-American-Dream-by-David-Vaught.html#.XxN1aOd7k2w. Joel has written five non-fiction books, two plays, an NPR radio program on Karen Carpenter and his recent novel, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reWrWJON-CI. So when another writer says my book is “honest, gripping, and heartfelt,” I feel pretty good about it.
Of course, he also said my book was rambling at times. He saw a need for such a broad subject as the American Dream to require a more cohesive structure. I respect that a good, experienced author understands such things, so this feedback is good to absorb. It also meets my pre-conceived idea that one of the reasons one writes is to answer back about what one reads.
Joel’s substantive contribution to that conversational aspect lies, to me, in his characterization of the enigmas I encounter trying to explain and detail how the American Dream compels my experience described in the book. The American Dream is a broad concept, and in my view its breadth comes from the nature of its creation. It was not pronounced as dogma from above. It instead grows over time as Americans experiencing it stand up for it, defend, it and advance its meaning in an intuitive and expansive way. It grows from our conflicts about it.
He calls my answers in the book to those questions a candid disclosure of the enigmas wrapped into a story of compelling personality profiles I included about those I encountered along the way.
About the time Joel compared my story to movies like A Few Good Men, I received a note from an old friend from Burnt Prairie, David Savage. His reaction to my book was that it reminded him of precisely that same movie. David is a retired teacher and school administrator that I sometimes saw at the Illinois Association of School Boards Convention in Chicago. When one of my Burnt Prairie connections has the same reaction to an experienced author who that same week made the same comparison in his review, that leads me to think that maybe I was getting somewhere in communicating how the American Dream drives those of us who stand up for its underlying principles.
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