Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dad Woke Like a Rooster

The day that Jimmy Hoffa came after Dad in May 1946 started like any other day. Mama still slept in their big double bed, as usual. She hated it when Dad woke like a rooster, crowing at dawn, but she just grumbled and went back to sleep.

 "Some day, I swear," she told me, "I'm going to fill a cattle trough with ice water and put it alongside your father while he sleeps." Her laughter sound light and giddy. "We'll see how cheerful he is when he leaps out of bed crowing." 

But she hadn't yet.

More to come in Marilyn June Coffey's THAT PUNK JIMMY HOFFA.

In 1956, my father, Tom Coffey, knuckled under Jimmy Hoffa's six-month-long Teamsters strike. He sold his twenty-seven-year-old truck line, Coffey's Transfer Company, rather than sign Hoffa's contract. And he swore he'd get back at THAT PUNK JIMMY HOFFA.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Her Conversational Nature

Nicole Overmoyer, a book reviewer for NetGalley, just wrote about my book,  THIEVES, RASCALS AND SORE LOSERS. Here's what she says.

I am not from Nebraska. I have never been to Nebraska. I've never been particularly interested in Nebraska, especially the particular counties of the state. So you might wonder why I requested a copy of Marilyn Coffey's THIEVES, RASCALS AND SORE LOSERS and read it. 

It's because I'm a history nerd.

And, as Coffey's detailed history of Harlan County, Nebraska made clear to me, I knew a lot more about the state than I thought I did. This is, no doubt, thanks to a fascination with the Old West. Reading this book made me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Willa Cather, of the novelization I've read of Tiana Rogers, of documentaries about the Wild West and the colorful figures then and there, and even of the Dog Soldiers and Cheyenne on the television show "Longmire." 

Coffey proves, with amazing success, that even the most minute details of history can be related to the larger picture that everyone knows just from... existing.

One of the best things about Coffey's book, though, is the conversational nature of it. There are facts and figures, dates and details, minutiae and momentous occasions - all as any history book has - but Coffey tells the story of Harlan County, of her county, in a voice that is relatable to laymen and, rare for books like this, highly entertaining. Imagined conversations between the colorful figures in the county, who might seem dour and dusty in an ordinary book, bring to life a time and a place that must have been daunting and frightening and still a hopeful place to begin life. 

I kind of want Coffey to tell me her interpretation of all my history now.