“The Foren­sic Records So­ci­ety” by Mag­nus Mills (Blooms­bury, 186 pages, $26).

Dayton Daily News - - LIFE - Book Nook Lit­er­ary Life

In past col­umns I’ve men­tioned I’m a col­lec­tor. My col­lect­ing bug bit early. At age 5, I ac­quired my first postage stamps and books. That was also the year I ob­tained my first record, a 45-rpm, 7-inch sin­gle. I still have it. As col­lec­tors age they of­ten be­come more se­lec­tive. I col­lect books that are first edi­tions au­to­graphed by the au­thors. I pre­fer en­graved postage stamps. I have de­vel­oped a keen in­ter­est in 45-rpm sin­gles that were is­sued be­tween 1955 and Novem­ber 1963. You prob­a­bly won­der, what is sig­nif­i­cant about that time pe­riod? Let me tell you.

Rock and roll mu­sic swept our land in 1955. For me, that care­free era didn’t end un­til Novem­ber 1963, when the charis­matic John F. Kennedy was as­sas­si­nated in Dal­las. That was a bru­tal shock. It is also why I col­lect mu­sic sin­gles from that time — from the birth of rock and roll to that death of our nation’s in­no­cence.

I’m a pushover for books on stamp col­lect­ing, book col­lect­ing and record col­lect­ing. Books on those top­ics are usu­ally non-fic­tion. I just dis­cov­ered a gem of a novel about ob­ses­sive record col­lec­tors. How could I re­sist? “The Foren­sic Records So­ci­ety” by Mag­nus Mills is a pe­cu­liar­ity. The cover is de­signed to at­tract the at­ten­tion of those of us who love our mu­sic sin­gles. It was made to look like a 45-rpm sin­gle in the sleeve.

It ac­tu­ally has a cutout for the record la­bel.

The story be­gins as our nar­ra­tor and his friend James are lis­ten­ing to records. Th­ese two men are en­thu­si­as­tic col­lec­tors of 45-rpm sin­gles.

After they fin­ish lis­ten­ing, our nar­ra­tor ob­serves they are prob­a­bly the only peo­ple in the world who just lis­tened to that record and that “no­body else is in­ter­ested. No­body lis­tens. Not prop­erly any­way. Not like we do.”

It is the mo­ment James de­cides the two of them should seek out like­minded lis­ten­ers. He pro­poses “we could form a so­ci­ety for the ex­press pur­pose of lis­ten­ing to records closely and in de­tail, foren­si­cally if you like, with­out any in­ter­rup­tion or dis­trac­tion.

“There would be reg­u­lar gath­er­ings, and mem­ber­ship would de­pend on some kind of test to make sure peo­ple are gen­uinely in­ter­ested.”

The two men ap­proach George, the pro­pri­etor of a lo­cal pub called the Half Moon and ask if they can hold meet­ings in his back room on Mon­day nights. George is en­thu­si­as­tic about any pro­posal that might in­crease his traf­fic. He agrees.

Posters at­tract po­ten­tial mem­bers. At­ten­dees bring three 4- rpm records to play. Our nar­ra­tor ob­serves as their lit­tle group rises and falls. Quickly they have com­pe­ti­tion, ri­val lis­ten­ing groups with ad­ver­sar­ial in­ten­tions. The author’s style is dead­pan hi­lar­i­ous. The book is mostly about the mu­sic, though. They lis­ten to stacks of vinyl. Their choices tend to be clas­sics from the late 1960s and early ’70s — Jimi Hen­drix, the Rolling Stones the Bea­tles.

Our nar­ra­tor doesn’t seem to have much of a life out­side of the group.

He ob­ses­sively sorts and cat­e­go­rizes his records. Ev­ery night he goes home and picks out a record that fits his mood and plays it three times. Did you know that the ideal length for a song is ex­actly three min­utes? You do now!

Sea­son 25 of ABC-TV’s “Danc­ing with the Stars” pre­mieres on Mon­day, Sept. 18. So, what does this have to do with Mi­ami Val­ley’s lit­er­ary life?

Well, lo­cal writer Vickie Weaver has penned a bi­og­ra­phy of her father, Car­roll Web­ster, who was a dancer in the vaude­ville era and spent four years in 1930s dance marathons try­ing for a chance to break into show busi­ness.

Vickie says she is a fan of the mod­ern-dance com­pe­ti­tion of the show, and that was part of her in­spi­ra­tion for writ­ing her father’s bi­og­ra­phy. A big­ger part of the in­spi­ra­tion was want­ing to know more about this as­pect of his life which she cap­tures in “Danc­ing In The Stars.”

Vickie has also her­self en­joyed the av­o­ca­tion of danc­ing, although with her edit­ing busi­ness, Writestyle, and writ­ing the bi­og­ra­phy, she’s taken time away from the pur­suit.

“I’ve never re­ally got­ten over my father’s death,” Vickie says. “Writ­ing this bi­og­ra­phy was a way to honor him and his ca­reer.”

Though writ­ing about her father, his bi­og­ra­phy nev­er­the­less took 4 1/2 years, ex­plains Vickie.

“I re­searched the era and the world of dance marathons through books and in­ter­net sources. I re­ally re­lied on the li­brary for much of my re­search,” Vickie says.

Vickie be­gan the book in 2010 and self-pub­lished it in 2015. Vickie is a life­long Day­ton res­i­dent. She founded her edit­ing busi­ness, Writestyle, in 1996. Learn more about her busi­ness and her book at www.writestyle.com.

“Writ­ing the book brought me some clo­sure,” Vickie says. “I think the themes that re­ally drive the book, and my father’s danc­ing ca­reer, are drive, per­sis­tence and re­li­gious faith.”

Vickie of­fers a tips for oth­ers in­ter­ested in writ­ing a bi­og­ra­phy.

The Dot­tie Yeck Good Life Award Writ­ing Con­test, run by the Wash­ing­ton-Cen­ter­ville Pub­lic Li­brary, is open to any teen en­rolled in a grade 7-9 cur­ricu­lum who lives or goes to school in Mont­gomery County. The con­test awards a $3,000 cash prize to the top es­say­ist.

Teens need to write 500 words or less on a spe­cific prompt and en­ter their work on­line at https:// www.wcli­brary.info/gla/

The con­test, now open for en­tries, has a dead­line of Tues­day, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. In ad­di­tion to the top prize of $3,000, three Awards of Dis­tinc­tion (each $100) are given as well as $250 go­ing to the win­ning class­room. There are also 21 Honor­able Men­tions and all the writ­ers are hon­ored at a pro­gram and re­cep­tion at Cen­ter­ville Li­brary on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 30, at 7:00 p.m. Win­ners ap­pear in the Day­ton Daily News.

Sun­day, Sept. 17, 2:30 p.m., Wright Me­mo­rial Pub­lic Li­brary, 1776 Far Hills Ave., Oak­wood

— Writ­ers’ Café, a ca­sual hang out for writ­ers ages 18 and up and of all ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els, meets the first Fri­day (7 p.m.) and third Sun­day (at 2:30) of each month.

Sun­day, Sept. 17, 2 p.m., Books & Co. at The Greene

— Mike Lupica , of­ten called “the great­est sports writer for mid­dle school read­ers,” will in­tro­duce his new­est novel, “Lone Stars.” Au­to­graph line num­bers will be given out be­gin­ning at 1 p.m.

Tues­day, Sept. 18, 6:308:30 p.m., Day­ton Metro Li­brary, Main (120 S. Pat­ter­son Blvd., Day­ton), Com­mu­nity Room 2A, 2nd Floor

— Ed Davis, author of five books of po­etry will of­fer a po­etry re­fresher on the crit­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween po­etry and prose.

Tues­day, Sept. 19, 7 p.m., Wright Me­mo­rial Pub­lic Li­brary, 1776 Far Hills Ave., Oak­wood

— Wright Li­brary Po­ets meet in the li­brary’s con­fer­ence room to share work and hone craft; begin­ners are wel­come. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact El­iz­a­beth Sch­midt, sch­midt@wrightli­brary.org, or call 294-7171.

Mon­days, Sept. 25-Oct. 30 (no class on Oc­to­ber 2), 6:30-8:30 p.m., Oak­wood Star­bucks, 2424 Far Hills Ave.

—Word’s Worth Writ­ing Cen­ter (www.wordsworth­day­ton.com) of­fers “Mem­oir: Write Your Story” with author and cre­ative writ­ing in­struc­tor Katrina Kit­tle. This se­ries ex­plores tech­niques to fo­cus per­sonal sto­ries, give them shape, and de­fine their un­der­ly­ing themes. See the web­site to reg­is­ter.

CON­TRIB­UTED

“The Foren­sic Records So­ci­ety” by Mag­nus Mills (Blooms­bury, 186 pages, $26).

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