Herman Wouk passed away today. He was 103. He lived in Palm Springs, a place I have visited frequently since I moved to Los Angeles. That we were close at various times over the last few years is strangely delightful to me.
The first adult book I ever read was THE CAINE MUTINY. Why I choose this book is lost, but I suspect that I choose it because it seemed like a grown-up thing to read. And that was reason enough. I read it over a summer in a house that I have not lived in and that my parents sold over 25 years ago. It was the house I grew up in.
I got the book from the library and because it was summer proceded to read it seated in a patio chair, occasionally in the garage, but also on the front lawn of our house. Midwest summers are notably terrible. August humidity in Wisconsin can be breathtaking, but I was the last generation to be an outdoor kid. More or less from 9am to 7 or 8pm I was outside getting what was a passable tan for my fair skin. And this summer I slowly read THE CAINE MUTINY under the shade of trees.
The other books that Mr. Wouk wrote that I have a connection to are THE WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE. But not the books really. The massive TV Mini-series that sprung from them. My Dad worked nights then I would tape the episodes on our VHS deck and then he would watch them the next morning. A few years later when the whole series was out on videotape I would rent the tapes and dub copies for him to watch without commercials. We went to a local bar restaurant for trivia night on Tuesday. There was a question about William Faulkner that is not important except for its ability to now remind me of his most lasting quote. 'The past is never dead. It's not even past." Today that quote is a comfort.
Safe journey across the river Styx Mr. Wouk. I will remember you.