Stars Rain Sun Moon is a wonderful 3-part trilogy depicting a Sixties road-trip in search of lost friendship and past glory.
There comes a moment in time when all things past must be put to rest. In Stars Rain Sun Moon that particular notion is not merely a platitude but a green light for a cross-country road trip in a 1958 Buick Special in search of the lost chords of friendship.
When Donovan Hart receives word at his home outside Savannah, Georgia, that his longtime friend, Morgan Palmer, is suffering from the effects of early-onset dementia, he knows he must go and see him before the inevitability of Alzheimer’s Disease takes its final toll. Donovan contacts old pal Coop McCord in nearby Saint Simons to let him know of Morgan’s condition and see if Coop will go with him to Morgan’s home in Oklahoma City. The two take off on the journey traveling in Gladys, a 1958 Buick Special that Coop, Donovan, Morgan, and Ed Moore bought from two migrating hippies back in the summer of 1968, the year the four of them departed from their hometown of Tybee Island to go to school at a small college outside Macon.
In the ensuing forty-plus years since, Ed has vanished in Hurricane Katrina from his home in Mobile, Alabama, so it is Coop and Donovan on this rickety road trip through Georgia and Memphis to Oklahoma City and finally to Mobile and Dauphin Island, searching along the way for the components of friendship that once made their lives special and magical and wondering all the while if it is now too late to find it.
Review of “stars rain sun moon” by Ralph Edward Bland
Ralph Bland’s “stars rain sun moon” takes its title from E. E. Cummings’ poem, “anyone lived in a pretty hot town” (Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Liveright Publishing Corporation):
“someones married their everyones
Laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then) they
Said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)”
Bland’s latest creation weaves a pleasing story that connects four guys throughout their sixty-year journey of life’s ups-and-downs. Cooper “Coop” McCord, Donovan Hart, Morgan Palmer, and Ed Moore share their bond through Gladys, a 1958 Buick Special purchased together in 1968 as they sped, or fled, to college. Into adulthood, their paths crisscross at varying tempos.
Through it all, Bland provides timeless vehicles to our past and present: prose, poetry, and music. Along with Cummings, glimpses of T. S. Eliot, Thomas Wolfe, Johnny Mercer, the Beatles, Vogues, and Critters, George Harrison, Grace Slick, and “500 Miles” (even Roy Rogers and Dale Evans appear) give credence to the mysteries that become the soundtrack for this novel.
The early setting is Savannah, Tybee Island, St. Simons, and Macon, youth personified, and the end of a care-free life of no responsibility other than keeping Gladys running. The innocence of the quartet is removed over the decades ahead, but only until curiosity raises its head time and again.
Along the way we learn of marriages won and lost, sweet and lurid affairs, and the pride of loving relationships to each other. Yet, as Gladys takes them along these excursions of friendship and hope, there are the potholes of immorality, divorce, drugs, and death.
In detailed thoughts and flash backs we are introduced to complex and all-too-familiar relationships between Morgan and his wife April, Coop and his long-lost love for Risa, Donovan’s ex-wife and business partner Julie, and Ed’s girlfriend Daphne. April reappears time and again in this chain of love, and Donovan’s special friend, his dog Rider, holds a special place in his heart.
If there can be one out of this group of lost souls, Coop is the steady, wise one. Donovan is more daring, yet wayward. They decide to take a two-week jaunt in Gladys together after forty years of disconnection from Morgan and Ed, first to Oklahoma City by way of Atlanta and Memphis, then to Mobile’s nearby Dauphin Island, all to learn the existence of Morgan and Ed. The result is a disappointing health issue in one instance, and a dead end in the other.
Donovan and Coop return home to final events that complete the circle, where past and present are connected, no looking back, no returning to what is no longer there. Ultimately it is Coop who carries the narrative to its end, when he realizes silence is the “best way to understand”.
Before the fateful conclusion of Bland’s book, Coop admits that he gave Gladys “more credit than she truly deserved” by elevating her “to a status that really didn’t exist”. It is a testament to what most of us could say: whether we feel it, think it, or say it, we spend much of our lives making sure our loves are steadfast, that those around us hold true to our trust in them, and that our car starts. To that, Coop is mistaken: Gladys made it happen, gave them common ground in an uncommon world, carried them from youth to adulthood, was always there, and deserved to be placed on a higher plane.
Gladys always started.
Bear with Ralph Bland until the end. He is a healer. In stars rain sun moon we hear his music and sense his thoughts. He totes his emotions along the way while Frank Sinatra sings, T. S. Eliot rhymes, and Gladys hums, and along that way it is as a mother who soothes her crying baby and cures a skinned knee, as a father who encourages a daughter’s teen distress and uncertainty, as a brother who puts an arm over the shoulder of those of a younger sibling who experienced a dawning of reality.
Allow Bland to interpret your own memories of lazy beaches and college, quaint friendships and loves lost, and the impending journey’s end.
For baby boomers such as me born in the years just beyond World War II, and who lived in the south before the age of Civil Rights unrest, “stars rain sun moon” is recommended. It may be a parallel to your own life; it was to mine.
“stars rain sun moon” (dpdotcom, © 2018 by Ralph Bland) is published in three parts (part I, part II, part III). Each may be purchased separately on Amazon.com or Lulu.com, or ask for it at your local bookstore. You may learn more about the author at www.ralphbland.com.
Buy Part I in paperback format from Amazon for $7.99
Buy Part I in paperback format from Lulu.com for $9.99
Buy Part I in kindle format from Amazon for $3.99
Buy Part 1 in ePub format from Lulu.com for $3.99
Buy Part II in paperback format from Amazon for $7.99
Buy Part II in paperback format from Lulu.com for $11.99
Buy Part II in kindle format from Amazon for $3.99
Buy Part 2 in ePub format from Lulu.com for $3.99
Buy Part III in paperback format from Amazon for $7.99
Buy Part III in paperback format from Lulu.com for $10.99
Buy Part III in kindle format from Amazon for $3.99
Buy Part 3 in ePub format from Lulu.com for $3.99