Live from Medicine Park
Written by Constance Squires⎮ Narrated by Tom Burka
Author: Constance Squires
Narrator: Tom Burka
Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
Publisher: Constance E. Squires
Released: Mar. 17, 2020
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Documentary filmmaker Ray Wheeler is down on his luck. Embroiled in a lawsuit, he is reeling from the consequences of a near-fatal shooting on his last film and has just lost his teaching gig. Broke and beleaguered, he can’t afford to be particular about his next project. So, when a former student invites him to film the comeback of Lena Wells, an iconic rock-and-roll singer who hit it big in the '70s, more than two decades earlier, he reluctantly agrees, even though he doesn’t like her music.
When Ray arrives at Lena’s hometown of Medicine Park, Oklahoma, a defunct resort community, he is determined to approach his topic with the professional detachment that has guided his career. His work ethic is modeled on the prime directive of Star Trek: Never interfere with an alien civilization. But with only five days left before Lena’s comeback concert, Ray quickly runs afoul of his subject, who places him on a one-week probation. The terms: impress her or else...
It doesn’t take long before Ray violates his own ethical standards. Drawn romantically toward Lena, he also fails to prevent himself from interfering with the lives of the people closest to her, including her only son Gram, whose paternity is a mystery even to himself, her daughter-in-law Jettie, and the enigmatic guitar player Cyril Dodge.
When disaster strikes Ray’s set again, this time in Medicine Park, he must face truths he has avoided for too long about love, relationships, and responsibility.
Live from Medicine Park is a bittersweet reflection on the search for identity and purpose amid tragedy. As the novel reaches its climax, Ray sets out on one last adventure to set things right. Redemption may be possible, but only on its own terms.
Meet the Author: Constance Squires
Constance Squires lives on an acre at the northern edge of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, with her husband, daughter, two dogs, four cats, a lizard, and too many books.
Squires holds a Ph.D. in English from Oklahoma State University and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. In addition to Hit Your Brights, she is the author of the novels Along the Watchtower (Riverhead), which won the 2012 Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction, and Live from Medicine Park, a 2018 Oklahoma Book Award finalist. Her short stories have appeared in Guernica, The Atlantic Monthly, Shenandoah, Identity Theory, Bayou, the Dublin Quarterly, This Land, and a number of other magazines.
Her nonfiction has appeared in Salon, the New York Times, the Village Voice, World Literature Today, the Philological Review, Largehearted Boy, and has been featured on the NPR program Snap Judgment. She is a regular contributor to the RollingStone500: Telling Stories in Stereo (thers500.com). and wrote the screenplay for Sundance fellow Jeffrey Palmer's 2015 short film, Grave Misgivings.
She is currently at work on a novel, Low April Sun.
In the last week, I’ve listened to Kitty Hendrix's narration of the 100 year old novel Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. The writing is certainly personal and engaging. Ms. Hendrix narration matches it perfectly. Ostensibly, Main Street is in a way about every Main Street in America, viewed through the lens of one character, Carol Kendicott, on one fictional town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. As the story begins, Carol is a college graduate, soon to be librarian. She has grand plans to make some small town a place worth living, in her own meaning of the term. She, in due course of time meets Dr. Will Kendicott & moves to the town of 3000 in high hopes of accomplishing her dreams.
Main Street of Gopher Prairie unfortunately isn’t ready to be molded by the young idealist. The main body of the story is Carol gradually coming to terms with who she is, who she wants to be, and where exactly that fits in a very slowly evolving society.
Whenever I read or listen to a book, I make comparisons in my mind and question what the author’s purpose was. In a sense, Sinclair Lewis in this book is an American Charles Dickens. Statements are made, sometimes overtly and sometimes less so about some of the injustices of our society (or in this case, the American small town society of the 1910’s). But unlike Dickens, there is no deep plot as it were. Ultimately, this story is a snapshot of one woman's life, becoming a wife, mother, community member, rebel, nursemaid and so forth. Though Lewis extensively paints the picture of Gopher Prairie and the sometimes caricaturized inhabitants, ultimately, I felt like this story is about 1 person – Carol, who is a stand in for Sinclair Lewis himself. Main Street is inevitable (kind of like Thanos?). It will be what it will be. Society will go on much as it has.
But where does Carol fit? Where do I fit & where do you fit? Again and again I was struck with the conflict that was Carol. My biggest takeaways are to 1- know yourself, TRULY know yourself, 2 – Be TRUE to yourself. Figure out what that means and be authentic to yourself & those around you, and 3- Accept others as they are. They have ambitions, doubts, things they’re passionate about & things that will never interest them. But in this book, Carols assumptions about others and her assumption that she can change others creates unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
There were several times when listening to Main Street that I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. It’s a book that makes you think. And it makes you think about how you might think you are better than others and where you’re wrong. And even a century later, it's incredibly relevant. Technology may have made it much easier to connect with anyone, anywhere, but ultimately, Main Street is still seen in every small town to whatever small community you are a part of. I especially liked Carol's realization that in the big city, she would be interacting with a similarly small community of people ultimately. We are who we are, and it has less to do with the setting we are in and more to do with how comfortable we are in the shoes we've chosen to inhabit.
So – Rating the book – Writing – 5 stars. Plot – 3 stars. If you’re looking for an engaging page turner, mystery, or action, the plot is not what drives this book. It just follows Carol and Main Street through several years. If you want a book to make you think, check out Main Street.
This is the first book I’ve listened to by Kitty Hendrix & she did fabulous on it. Sometimes I found her male characters a little caricatured, but that was as much the writing as her narration.