People, Place, Plot, and Purpose: Prose in All Its Grandeur

There is inherent power in telling a story. It matters not if the story is good or bad, fiction or a someone’s living truth. What matters to many is the outcome – namely how the reader or listener feels or responds after absorbing the words. What matters to me mostly is how a story is told. Therein lies the truest command of a teller of tales.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen growing support that people thrive on “the story.” Some crave a good story. And some live to tell the stories. Last Sunday morning I was half listening to St. Louis Public Radio whilst driving and the discussion turned the importance of people in the transgender community sharing their stories with others. The speaker explained that it’s equally important for human growth for people to hear experiences from others they see like themselves. Mirrored experiences can be therapeutic and stave loneliness in some humans; and can simply work to validate a person.

To me a story doesn’t need to be about another being living a similar life. I believe in many cases one can find a connection to nearly every account written if one only looks. Even a solid disconnection resulting from any written or told affair can be confirming – if you’re looking for validation and the story is well-told. How else can we substantiate the world’s need for reality and court tv programs, tabloid news, and that one friend in our circle who lives to create drama for the sake of drama?

I am an avid reader and have been for all of my days, but I am a choosy reader. I am the same when it comes to broadcast stories. Am I missing out by being selective? Maybe I am. But I know what interests me and what doesn’t. I know where I am willing to pay my time and what is of lesser value to me in the big picture of my world. While I am mindful that there are few books written that reflect what I’ve traveled for well over 5 decades, I am also fully aware that such writings would be of great help to many. For as many differing personalities, likes and dislikes, races, and gender expressions there are you just might be someone who never really makes that solid connection with another’s lived expression. It’s not a bad thing, it just is. So, then what?

In recent weeks I have read or seen story after story of human truths. From Transgender Day of Awareness shares to life events brought forward during the pandemic, to the ongoing fight for Trans rights, to the front page news surrounding the unnecessary tragedy that was the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement and so much more, many of us are absorbing a whole lot of information. There’ve been an increasing number of posts that have scrolled within social media from people stating that it is “just too much.”

I’m one of those people that is really good at turning it off and ignoring it when I want to. It may not be the best response according to some of you, but it works for me. We all pick and choose how and when we respond to the things being tossed around in our worlds. That in itself is a form of self-care; and we’re hearing a lot about that whole self-care thing lately, too.

The stories keep coming, though. They will always be there. Every day all day new stories evolve and you may find it overwhelming to stay on top of it all. This is where picking and choosing also works for me. Mostly I’m a sucker for a well-written story. You have to go with what works for you or what’s the point? Maybe instead of the growing frustration of trying to see yourself in someone else’s narrative, you create your own story. Maybe your story becomes that connection for someone else – that could be pretty cool, right?

Or maybe not every story has to be a path to enlightenment, educational, or a means to force lives to link. What if a story is just a story? What if we can just be entertained for once? It is possible. Despite the unpaved path of the past year or so, there are still ways to find enjoyment in what has been written for us. There are still plenty of those put-on-a-pot-of-coffee-settle-in-for-the-ride books out there. Sometimes they are handed to us like a surprise gift we never knew we wanted.

Over a week ago I was going to sit down and write about words. I had a plan in mind well before I started typing and was ironing out the details in my head. Then I was sent an advanced reader’s copy of a new book and I knew I needed to tell you about the book in this post. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the news about the upcoming book release with you. In the interest of full disclosure know that the author and I know each other and have collaborated in recent years on various writing projects, but anyone who knows me even a little knows I don’t back anything just because I know someone or if I don’t find worth in it.

House of Villadiva cover | Chris Andoe Instagram

Here’s where that reading just for the sake of entertainment I mentioned earlier comes into play. Consider this the gift you never knew you wanted…or needed. Some of you reading this likely already know Chris Andoe. This isn’t his first book and I imagine it’s highly unlikely it will be his last. But it is his latest and its arrival six years on the tail of the first is both a wait too long and a welcome arrival. I’m talking about the soon to be released House of Villadiva.

Word upon word we are treated to a show of oft unrivaled bravura in this accounting of all that comes with living the queer life in St. Louis, Missouri and the world that is Andoe’s. Chris in all his mastery connects us to the players (real people) whether we want to be there or not. You will laugh – oh how you will laugh, you will slide to the edge of your seat, and I can’t promise you won’t spew that coffee through your nose at least once in shock when you read these tales.

This collection of hundreds of short stories makes this a timely offering to all of us. Whether you need respite from the craziness of the pandemic life, want a vacation read, or just like to get a little dirty; you need this book. Buy the book. Seriously. You deserve a break and this, my friend, is it!

Chris Andoe | Facebook Profile

House of Villadiva will be released soon.

In the meantime, you should check out his first book Delusions of Grandeur. You can visit the author’s website for more information.

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