‘When the chinook blew, the thing to do was to get the men out of the factory.’ ~ THE TORRENTS OF SPRING
The Torrents Of Spring is a book about two schools of thought and two kinds of people.
The first, represented by Scripps O’Neil, are the people who never traveled, never engaged with anything beyond their county lines, and whose troubled minds and sharp ideas got lost in the din of smoky beaneries and small towns where charlatans and lost cases ran amok, beguiling those who didn’t know better, those desperate enough to believe any cock and bull story they heard to soothe the wounds suffered in the drudgery of their predictable lives.
The second school of thought is depicted via a different kind of person. Yogi Johnson. Yogi Johnson has been around. He spent time across the ocean, fighting a war, meeting new cultures, venturing into areas and situations he shouldn’t have survived. He spent time in Paris and fell in love there and was cheated out of love and lost all will to love. Yet survive this experience he did, returning home with a bagful of insight and the scars to prove it.
Yogi stands out. He is the kind of person whose curiosity was not mortally wounded, whose dreams hinged on reconnecting with the greater world. Unwilling to settle for the petty little circus of a life he’s ended up with, he keeps prodding and pushing. Unlike Scripps, who has given in, moving from one sand trap to the next, barely out of one when he throws himself into the next one — he doesn’t know any better, Scripps — Yogi is still kicking. Something is bothering him, niggling at him, forcing him to step out of his routine and seek out the company of strange people, devastated people, crawling through the darkness in the midst of cold and warm winds, ready for both, ready for whatever comes.
In the end, both Scripps and Yogi stick to their instincts. They do what their nature tells them to, and they suffer for it (this is a Hemingway story, don’t forget) and pay the price for it. The only difference is that one of them suffers a life in bondage, the other a release from.
The theme sounds grim, but the language and tone more than make up for it. The book is pensive, incisive and sharp — it keeps asking existential questions about life choices and everything that led to them — but it is also humorous, satirical, self-deprecating and nimble. Easy to read, easy to follow, it carries you along, if you don’t try to decode every line. You don’t have to. The story takes you places without having to shine a spotlight on every single turn. It’s only a hundred pages, with short chapters, pacey paragraphs and sharp ideas, descriptive enough to provide a setting without being burdensome. It’s elegant, lyrical, musical and poetic in a daring kind of way, pragmatic and to the point, as much as a thoughtful piece can be, providing a story so simple, yet appealing and poignant, you can’t ever dismiss it, unless you’re a highbrow writer, or a literary critic, resisting a perceived slight from the author.
If you’re not, this book will excite you. It will stoke your curiosity, entice and mesmerize you. It will entertain and amuse you in ways other books can’t, or won’t.
Don’t diss this book, no matter what the critics say. Don’t take their word for it. They’re emotional about it. Their feelings got hurt. They’re threatened and desperate to say something clever. Their envy is evident. Their lifestyles were mocked, so they reacted badly. The curious and brave hero broke free, reminding them of their shortfalls. They hated him and the whole premise, they despised it, and wanted to find fault in it.
Don’t pay attention to the aspersions of the over-critical and the offended. They’re on the wrong side of history. On the bottom side of fame.
Read the book and see why.