Taking a break from TurkeyMan-on-the-Trail Reminiscences, I saw that Tim O'Brien, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of novels such as If I Die In A Combat Zone and The Things They Carried was in town. I decided to attend his February 6 appearance at Gonzaga University in Spokane.
Few authors can match his brilliant portrayal of war. In his reading, he revealed himself to be a warm and personal man.
After the reading, I purchased a book, and waited in line for him to sign it. O'Brien was talking to a student in front of me. I overheard the young man say he was studying journalism. O'Brien replied that he learned a lot about writing when he was a journalist at the Washington Post in 1973. He was right in the middle of Watergate and got to meet a lot of high level politicians.
"Well," O'Brien corrected himself with a deprecatory nod, "Vice President, anyway."
That would-be Spiro Agnew, I realized, a step below the nefarious Nixon. Some sort of synchronicity seemed to be in play. It always does on TurkeyMan Trail.
When it was my turn, I asked: "So you were at the Washington Post in 73? Do you remember someone kidnapping the national turkey back then? A terrorist named TurkeyMan?"
He looked at me with a curious twinkle.
"I might have heard something about it," he said. "That's a ways back."
"Well," I replied, "did you know Charles Del Vecchio, the famous Washington Post photographer back then? He photographed the turkey."
O'brien cocked his head. He looked at me with penetrating eyes. With his wizened gaze and farm boy appeal, something beneath the surface suggested a hidden turkey past. Perhaps a turkey proclivity percolated beneath his persona.
"I don't remember," he said as he signed my book. "But the name seems familiar."
Author Tim O'Brien
I looked at his signature.
"To TurkeyMan?" I held the novel close.