A shell-shocked World War I vet coming home to West Virginia trying to piece his life back together after the sudden death of his young wife, guided by an angel who speaks to him through the mouth of an old horse. By description only, this sounds like a novel I could possibly be interested in and would thumb through in a book store, but would also stand the chance of being passed over for something more salacious came along.
In actuality, this is the plot for a novel, Bright’s Passage, and is a book I bought the first week it was released. Why the enthusiasm? Because of its author. One of my favorite musicians, Josh Ritter, wrote his first novel, which is incidentally just out now in paperback, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. To be honest, it really wouldn’t have mattered if it was about aliens getting married on horseback in Antarctica while running away from polar bears—I would have bought and read it anyway.
Granted, singer-songwriters might have a better chance at actually being able to write a cohesive and coherent novel than say, reality TV stars, but the questions still remains. How likely are you to pick up or look forward to a book penned by someone who is well known (or at least well enough known) for something entirely other than their writing career, simply because you are a fan otherwise? I don’t mean, of course, a business book written by a successful CEO or a cookbook written by a revered chef, but something entirely outside the milieu of their public persona.
As luck would have it, Bright’s Passage is a lovely little book—well-written, at times both humorous and heartbreaking, and completely enjoyable, and I would wholly recommend it to anyone who’s interested. I picked it up with the hopes of it being good, but I really would have bought it regardless, simply because I love Ritter’s music and performance so much. He’s done the author-tour thing, just as other first-time writers would, but with a solid fan base to promote the book, he surely had an easier time filling seats than most.
I’m interested, though. Have any of your idols, musical or otherwise, written a book? Have you read it? Would you, if they haven’t, regardless of content?