Ron Berry

Book Of A Lifetime: So Long, Hector Bebb

Ron Berry's fifth novel, first published in 1970, has been, and continues to be, a guide and pilot to my genesis and evolution as a writer. Other books share this badge, of course - 'Moby Dick', 'The Return of the Native', 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' - but 'Bebb' came first, at age nine or thereabouts, and stunned me with recognition and a wondrous awe at the possibilities in words. As a reader, I flailed and floundered when a child; 'Rothman's Football Yearbook' was a staple, as was the 'I-Spy Guide to the Hedgerow', which told me everything I needed to know about the daddy-long-legs except why.

Everything I was given to read in school was told in a language unfamiliar and alien; this wasn't how people spoke on the estate where I lived. This wasn't the language I knew. I was vaguely aware that this should be seen as the correct and proper tongue and one to which I should aspire, but it stayed bizarre and unbelievable to me.

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