An excerpt from the novel Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk
Fifty years ago this week, Frank Sinatra’s single “Summer Wind” was released. One of Frank’s best records ever, with a sweet Nelson Riddle arrangement as perfect as… well, a summer wind.
I mentioned the song in my coming-of-age novel Meeting Dennis Wilson, although, perhaps predictably, the teen characters in 1976 Quaker Valley weren’t quite as fond of the song or the singer as I am.
In this excerpt, Kathy Kelly (Christy’s big sister), who is attending her dad’s (Senator Tom Kelly) campaign picnic wearing a tight black BESERKELEY: HOME OF THE HITS t-shirt, lectures her mom (Katie) about the music that her mom and dad have chosen to pipe over the PA system at his official campaign function…
…Katie looked surprised and a little hurt. “You like Sinatra-”
“–his MUSIC, Mom.” Kathy caught me out of the corner of her eye. “SOME of it. Kind of,” she appended, and she looked back at her mom. “He’s part of that whole Nixon crowd–”
“–Kathleen,” Katie bristled, “no one who was around in 1960 associates Frank Sinatra with Richard Nixon.”
“Well, think about the voters who WEREN’T around in 1960, Mom,” Kathy replied, but her mom was already five steps away from the table, making her way back up to the front. Kathy shook her head. “Doesn’t listen,” she said. “I mean, Brian… they act like they’re so worried about Dad’s image… Mom says how they want him to keep his appeal with young voters. And then a young voter gives them feedback, and what do they play at the picnic?” She sighed. “And I know Mom loves Frank… but…”
“Summer Wind” had started playing. Not my favorite of his by a long shot, but still…
“I like Frank,” I said. (Had I ever really admitted that to anyone?)
“Well, I do too, Brian… sometimes… as a singer. But politically? He broke up with the Kennedys ten years ago. He’s in with Nixon, Reagan, that whole… bunch. Bad soundtrack for a Democrat.” Kathy sighed. “Plus… this song?” She sang in a deep, wavery, funereal voice –“‘The summer winnnnnnd…'”– and then mimed sticking her finger down her throat. “It’s like… roller rink music. I ask you, Brian: am I right?”
I was laughing at her whole presentation. “You’re right.”
About Meeting Dennis Wilson…
“Today marks the day that I officially add Meeting Dennis Wilson to my ‘Favorite Coming of Age Books’ list. I adore John Green and his work [and] I fell in love with this book just as easily as I fell in love with Paper Townsor An Abundance of Katherines. Meeting Dennis Wilson can easily be compared to a teenager who’s just coming of age: awkward, quirky, hilarious, and loads of fun to be around.Meeting Dennis Wilson is incredibly comical, sweet, and ultimately feel-good.”
(The Literary Connoisseur)
Meeting Dennis Wilson is available in both softcover print and Kindle editions, in either seven serialized installments or as an omnibus edition gathering all seven books.