Reading Paul Quarrington's memoir Cigar Box Banjo and I have to say, that considering Paul received the news about his lung cancer partway through the writing of this book, and then changed his approach, the finished product is funny, uplifting and a flat-out dandy read.
I've always liked Quarrington's books. From my first reading of Home Game, his first novel, through King Leary and The Life of Hope his books have grabbed me. And I can't begin to explain how I enjoyed Whale Music, maybe the best book ever written about Brian Wilson! Except it's about the Howl Brothers! Great film too.
After I read Home Game I sent a letter to Paul c/o his publisher, and he replied. We entered into a brief letter writing relationship. Then it was over. Didn't see him for a few years, until his band Pork Belly Futures appeared at the Scottish Rite, opening a reading by Ian Rankin. The band was fun, playing Paul's songs about Hemingway, and Michael Ondaatje, and they had a special guest guitarist. Danny Weis (who had played in Rhinoceros back in the day) was filling in. We (my wife and I) rode in the elevator with Danny. After the reading, I talked to Paul and reminded him of the letters. Who remembers letters from ten years ago? Well, since one of my letters included the suggestion that a character in Home Game should be portrayed by Gilda Radner...he remembered.
So, this is all to say that even though there's sadness in the pages of Cigar Box Banjo there's life too, and hope, and humour, and a lesson for us all. Keep livin' til you just can't live anymore. Enjoy every sandwich.