Artifacts of a Maine character

Posted Sept. 26, 2010, at 5:46 p.m.

RAINDROPS ON A NAIL KEG: THE SELECT SHORT STORIES OF DICK GOODIE by Dick Goodie, Irving Books, Westbrook, Maine, 2010; 168 pages, trade paperback, $19.95.

Dick Goodie’s “Raindrops on a Nail Keg” is, strictly speaking, not a selection of short stories as the subtitle indicates, but a miscellany of short writings made up mainly of personal memoirs with a couple of works of fiction mixed in.

The memoirs depict in an easygoing, observational manner the main points of Goodie’s life, now in its ninth decade, which were his participation in combat in World War II, his passion for the outdoors, and his long involvement in distance running — a sport little-practiced in Maine when he took it up in the 1960s. The fiction offers views of war generated from Goodie’s own experiences and tales he heard in Europe during and after the D-Day invasion, which was a pivotal moment in his life as it was for so many.

The writing is seasoned freely, if tersely, with wisdom gleaned during a long life in Maine, from the family homes in Bangor, Bucksport and Orono to the Portland area. The title comes from one of those nuggets, which is repeated in several places: “Life’s various happenings — whether gainful, regretful, adventurous, or solemn — are all irreversible and often hark back to memory like summer raindrops drumming softly upon an abandoned nail keg.”

We do not encounter here a masterpiece of personal memoir, but this book does conjure up a very clear sense of a certain kind of Maine personality, now disappearing under the natural mills of time, that grew up in the 1930s and weathered World War II and then the turbulent postwar decades. Some native Maine readers will recognize relatives in the flow and diction of Dick Goodie’s storytelling voice. “Raindrops on a Nail Keg” is an artifact of a time, place and Maine character.

Dick Goodie also is the author of “A Bracelet for Lily” and “The Maine Quality of Running.” Copies are available by writing to Irving Books, P.O. Box 818, Westbrook 04098, or info@irvingpublishing.com.

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