Tag Archives: books

A new book from Mike Reuther

14 Apr
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Mike Reuther books

4 Feb
blur book stack books bookshelves

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Thanks for checking out my site. The image above with the bookcases holds all my titles. Okay. That’s a load of crap, but I have written books, about twenty at last count. Check out the link below to see what I’ve written. C’mon. It won’t take that long.

 

books2read.com/u/m0MMp0

Another excerpt – Searching for Sanity

12 Jan

Chapter 2

“Look Steve. I don’t read books. I do enough reading sitting here every day going over my copy.”

“But it’s a great book. This Tom Waiter is a wonderful writer. You can really identify with these people he writes about.”

Steve watched Coy Frusty roll his eyes from his seat in front of the computer screen. It was mid-week of another late afternoon in the newsroom. Sitting before a couple of other computer terminals nearby were Sue Karinsky and Larry Moran.

Karinsky was an earnest young woman several years out of college, who dreamed of working for a big city newspaper, but couldn’t seem to break the ties of home. She was very close to her family. Moran was a kind of introvert, somber and serious, a quiet bookworm, who often engaged Steve in conversations about fiction.

“Who is that author?” Moran asked, peering around his computer screen at Steve.

“Tom Waiter. Check him out.”

“How do you spell his name?”

“Like waiter in a restaurant.”

Moran nodded and peered back into his computer screen.

“Has anyone read All the President’s Men?” Karinsky said.

“Yeah,” Steve said. “Long time ago.”

“I saw the movie,” Karinsky said. “Woodward and Bernstein. Pretty cool stuff. How they broke that story and stayed on in it like bulldogs.”

“Brought down Nixon,” Moran added.

“Really cool,” Karinsky said. “Do you remember that Steve?”

“Sure. I was born before the internet.”

“More like before automobiles,” Coy said. “Ha.”

“Look who’s talking Frusty. Those AARP magazines have been piling up on your desk for the past five years.”

“Ha. Good one Steve,” Moran said.

“Seriously,” Karinsky said. “You guys remember Watergate? That must really have been weird. Seeing the President get impeached and actually get tossed out of office.”

“Actually. Nixon resigned,” Frusty said.

“That’s right,” Steve said.

He leaned back in his swivel chair and looked at Karinsky then Moran. Jesus, he thought. The two copy editors were so young. Nineteen seventy-four, when Nixon flashed those peace signs before boarding the jet and flying off—his political career having crashed and burned for good. It was all so long ago.

“Do you think something like that can happen again?” Karinsky was peering around her computer screen once again.

“Ha. With the looney we got in the White House now, it’s possible,” Frusty said.

“Trump? Aw c’mon. He’s not so bad. Just a deranged narcissist.”

“Listen to Steve here,” Frusty said. “A liberal defending our president.”

“I’d love to be a reporter who breaks a story like that,” Karinsky said. She looked past Steve through the window behind him.

It was one of those bright, blustery November afternoons, a day to be outside where the wind could whisk you away someplace—far from this damn newsroom. Steve often paused from banging out stories to look out the window. From his desk he could take in part of the small city of Meckleyburg’s downtown, which of late, had undergone a kind of renaissance with restaurants and stores and artist galleries opening. The economy was booming right now, with no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, the good times didn’t seem to help the newspaper’s revenues where Steve and his co-workers were stuck toiling away at full-time jobs, working odd hours and pulling down janitors’ wages.

“Not at this newspaper,” Frusty said. “You need to go somewhere else. Washington, New York, maybe even Philadelphia, where they do investigative reporting.”

“That’s my dream,” Karinsky said. “Maybe not those cities, but somewhere … a real newspaper.”

“And now you’re on the copy desk.” Moran said with a smile.

“I needed a break from reporting on school board meetings and fluff pieces that the local chamber of commerce hangs on its walls.”

“Ah well,” Steve said. “You’re young. You got your whole life ahead of you. As for me and Frusty here, we’re screwed. Too old to find other jobs …”

“And too old to give a shit,” Frusty added.

Frusty turned his attention back to his computer screen and resumed tapping away on his keyboard. Frusty was a grinder, the workaholic of the newsroom, constantly banging out stories seemingly for no other reason than he felt duty-bound to do it. Or maybe it was the boss, Sam Sneed, who wielded this kind of power over him. If Sneed needed someone to stay late and cover some meeting or make a few phone calls to get a story he felt was badly needed for the front page, Frusty was his man.

The few other reporters, Steve included, didn’t usually get hit up for the extra work. They were more eager to get home to babysit a kid or God knows what else. Steve had submitted to the extra work that came up too. That is, until the past few years, when he’d decided he’d had enough. He didn’t care about the overtime, basically a pittance anyway. Time was running out on his life, the gas tank was emptying, and he wanted to spend as little time as he had left not working.

“Oh. You guys aren’t that old,” Karinsky said.

“We’re old enough,” Steve said.

He turned to Frusty, who fought a smile, as he sat poised with his fingers for another attack at the keyboard.

“What?” Steve said, leaning across his desk toward his longtime newsroom mate.

“Not too old to still get it up now and then,” Frusty whispered, throwing the two of them into fits of near uncontrollable laughter.

“What?” Karinsky said. “What did he say?”

“Nothing,” Steve said. “Get back to work.”

Steve needed to get back to work too. There was that feature due on the soup kitchen’s closing. He had already done the legwork for that one, attending the last meal there with a couple of the nuns and the volunteers who ran the place and the poor, miserable folks who showed up for free meals there several days a week. Where were his notes for that story?

He also had phone calls to make. A guy no one had ever heard of was running for political office on the Green Party ticket. He wanted the same coverage for himself as the Republican and Democratic candidates. Fair enough. He had to have that story turned around by tomorrow too. Shit. There was always something. He asked himself again? Why had he ever gone into journalism? Hell, he knew the answer.

Steve picked up his iPhone from off his desk and tapped into the website. For the fourth time that day, the numbers were the same. No book sales. Seventeen books he had written over the past seven years and not a single sale since mid-October. Oh, so depressing.

He had started writing novels more than thirty years ago. This had come right after losing his first newspaper job. The reasons for his firing were vague. Something about a bad attitude, the boss had told him after summoning him into his office one bleak winter day.

He should have taken the dismissal as a sign. Maybe it was time to get out of the newspaper business. Why be a reporter when he didn’t enjoy being one? Sure, it was a job where one could make a small difference, challenging authority and making the powers-to-be squirm a little now and then. He’d never liked authority either. But, if truth be told, he was a bit diffident to ever be this hard-nosed, brash reporter, which in Steve’s mind, was the way the job should be done.

Instead, he’d played it safe his whole career (if a career is what you could call a low-paying, thankless gig), dutifully carried out his assignments and collected his paychecks. But he kept telling himself through the years: That was okay. He was marking time really, as he banged out stories in his spare time at home toward his real purpose of becoming a novelist.

But after all these years what had it really added up to?

His ex-wife, Gloria, had been supportive. For a while anyway.

“It will happen honey,” she said. “That New York publisher will send a limousine and we’ll be whisked away to the city for a weekend of literary parties and craziness.”

But as his thirties turned into his forties and he still found himself sending out query letters and manuscripts to agents that inevitably came back with the same “Sorry, not for us” message, he wondered if perhaps he had wasted his life trying to write the great American novel.

The divorce could have been blamed on any number of things. The miscarriages that aborted dreams of children and Gloria’s battles with depression, the fights over money and her nagging about him finding another job, “one that pays a living wage.”

And, well, he had tried other things—peddling janitorial supplies, driving a cab—but he’d always come back to reporting, which he knew best, and yes, somehow became miserably comfortable doing.

He knew what he was up against trying to write fiction. Hardly anyone ekes out a living at it, and yet, he continued to hold out this false hope that somehow, one day, the gods would look down benevolently upon him and declare one of his books the greatest literary achievement of his generation, at which point he’d quit his miserable, soul-sucking job forever and do what he was meant to do.

After all, it happened for Tom Waiter. This obscure blue-collar guy from The Plains had found literary fame at fifty-nine. Steve found himself thinking more and more of Tom Waiter. For a time, it seemed like every other day he was tapping the guy’s name into Google to find any little nugget of information about this literary wonder until he exhausted all sources.

Eventually, there was nothing new about Tom Waiter. All the magazine interviews and podcasts were dated. The internet search engines turned up nothing. Tom Waiter became like a murder case gone cold.

And yet, it kind of figured, Steve thought. There was something mysterious about the guy. The story about meeting the old man in the bar had been the last thing he read about Tom Waiter. Who was that man? And how had he changed Waiter’s life. Was the story true? Or, was it just a means of Waiter adding to his already mysterious and elusive persona. Perhaps his agent had concocted up the whole story to help Waiter further peddle his book.

The book, Dakota People, had been out for five years, and while it failed to become the number one book on the New York Times bestsellers list, it had nevertheless done quite well and been critically acclaimed. The stories resonated somehow with a great segment of readers, including Steve. But what had Tom Waiter been up to the past few years, and when would he come out with another book?

Steve returned to his desk and pulled the paperback copy from beneath the papers on the corner of his desk. He loved the front cover of the book: barbed wire stretching seeming into infinity across a Dakota wheat field at dusk. A lonely and desolate and mysterious landscape. Perfect. Tom Waiter’s mug shot on the cover revealed a man in a dusty ball cap, the words on the front of the hat indecipherable, the weathered and lined face of a working man, unsmiling, the somber eyes looking off in the distance.

And the stories. There were twelve of them. People, small town and rural folks, desperate souls, crying out for something. Perhaps meaning. Steve had read Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio many years ago, in his eighteenth summer. These stories reminded him of those same misunderstood folks with longing and hunger in their souls. The very essence of Tom Waiter?

Steve had devoured Dakota People in two furious nights of reading. All two-hundred-fifty-one pages. The stories haunted him. The people of Tom Waiter’s world, hardworking and often tough, but so often beaten down by life, both physically and emotionally, part of it from relentless farm work and the raising of families, but perhaps more from an inability to articulate and quench a deep thirst or desire for something.

Tom Waiter had tapped into something that other writers had tried, but few had successfully managed to somehow portray: Mankind’s utter, futile struggle for not just meaning but happiness.

Standing on a bridge watching life go by

12 Oct
brown mountain under blue and white sky

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“The thing is,” Reuther said as he stared off at the scraggy mountain top, “I’m past my fertile period. Making it as a fiction writer is out of the question.”

“That again,” Ritter said, rolling his eyes. “Every time you hit a wall with your writing you go on about being past your fertile period.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“It’s not true. C’mon. Let’s check out the Deckers Bridge and see if any trout are rising.”

“Since when do you care about trout rising?” Reuther said.

Ritter hoisted up his backpack and started off toward the bridge some fifty yards away. “I don’t, but it will get your mind of your stalled writing.”

“It’s not stalled. More like done … over, finished, kaput.”

Ritter didn’t want to hear it. Just that past winter, Reuther had come out with a dozen short stories that had wowed the literary world. What had followed had been the kind of success and attention that anyone would kill for – glowing reviews in the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, interviews on CNBC and the major networks, even a bit part in some silly reality show. Sure, it was October now, and much of the hoopla over Reuther’s book was in the rearview mirror. And that, as Ritter saw it, was the real problem.

“You’ll just have to write another book,” Ritter said as they stood on the bridge and peered into the roiling waters of the South Platte River. Ritter liked it here, particularly in the fall on weekdays, when it was quiet and the summer vacationers were long gone.

“I guess so,” Reuther said.

“You guess so. Shit. Just do it,” Ritter said, turning now to face his longtime hiking buddy. “I mean, God sakes alive Reuther. When you got into this writing business, you knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.”

“But I’ll never write anything as good as Misfits, Dreamers and Mad Poets again,” Reuther said, referring to his book.

“Probably not,” Ritter said, as they both watched a blonde woman in a skin-tight kayaking outfit suddenly emerge from the Ponderosa pines on the far bank.

“Wow. Not bad,” Reuther said.

“Er … not bad at all.”

“Boyfriend is probably right behind her somewhere.”

“Of course,” Ritter said.

Sure enough, a young, svelte and sturdy man clad in his own skin-tight kayaking outfit, the lightweight water craft balancing upon his back, emerged from the forest.

“You see Mike. We all have our time in the sun.”

“Guess so ol’ Bean.”

They watched the couple move quickly down the embankment and to the water before climbing  into the two-person craft. All at once, the man looked up toward the bridge where our two heroes stood, giving them a thumbs-up, a gleaming toothed smile, before using a paddle to nudge the the kayak into the swirling water. The woman, sitting behind him in the kayak, smiled and waved as well. They two of them appeared, Reuther thought, to be the very epitome of youth, and beauty and vigor. They were, he realized, the kind of people that could be found everywhere in the West anymore. And just like that, the kayak was heading downriver and then under the bridge and past them.

“There’s a rise over there,” Ritter said, pointing to the spot behind the boulder known as Elephant Rock that formed a deep pool.

Reuther had been watching the kayak carrying the young couple grow smaller down the South Platte. He turned to look where his buddy was pointing. Sure enough, a large ring slowly expanded from near Elephant Rock. “Guess I should have brought my fly rod,” Reuther said.

He thought back of a few years ago, when he first came out here from back East. Back then, he’d been fishing four and five times a week – when he wasn’t writing his brains out that is.

“You need to quit moping around and get back to it,” Ritter said as if reading his mind.

“Guess so,” Reuther said.

“You guess so. Hell.”

They stood for a while on the bridge not saying anything. A breeze carrying the hint of winter blew against their faces. The sun disappeared behind some clouds.

“A cold beer wouldn’t be bad right now,” Ritter said. He was leaned over the bridge’s iron railing watching a cluster of fall leaves drift below him. He straightened and smiled at Reuther.

They both turned to gaze across the two-lane road feeding into the village at the blinking beer signs of the tavern.

“Shit yeah,” Reuther said.

The books of Mike Reuther

23 May

Mike Reuther
Do you like fiction, humor, baseball, fishing? How about books on writing? Mike Reuther is a longtime newspaper journalist who has a special fondness for books and literature. Check out the link below and explore his world.

https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Reuther/e/B009M5GVUW

FREE book – Jan. 17

17 Jan

A story of fishing, baseball but mostly life

5 Jan

Here’s an excerpt from Mike Reuther’s book, Baseball Dreams, Fishing Magic.

To really understand this story, I guess you have to start at the end. For it was on a particular Labor Day Weekend, after we’d won our amateur adult baseball team tournament, that I first shared my story about Sir Jon. Up until then, I had never talked about Sir Jon, a kind of mythical figure from my days spent on trout streams, not even with my friend Hal, who’d been with me on one or two occasions when Sir Jon had showed up while we were fishing. Most people had never even heard of Sir Jon, and he remained an elusive kind of creature. It was as if he didn’t exist. It was Sir Jon, you might say, who made me finally realize what’s important, even if there were many other people who would play a big part in shaping me and my philosophy about life.

So there I was, Nick Grimes, still at the ball field long after most of my teammates had gone. I guess I was basking in my glory at the advanced baseball age of forty-five, the winning pitcher in the championship game. Somehow, my assortment of deceptive slow curves and changeups mixed in with an occasional fastball had baffled the opposing hitters. The only other person left was my young teammate, a kid named Leggett, who’d had a big day at the plate, going four for four with a couple of home runs. He’d been a high school star but had decided against going to college and playing ball. Some people said he was crazy for not pursuing baseball more seriously. He certainly had the tools for turning professional, and he was tall and lanky with a perfect kind of baseball body that the scouts loved. But I could tell he didn’t have the passion for the game. “I like hitting home runs,” he told me one day. “But the rest of the game … It pretty much bores me.”

What Leggett really enjoyed was trout fishing, and he never missed a chance to query me about my own experiences fishing and guiding anglers around central Pennsylvania. I was sitting in the small grandstands behind home plate when Leggett plopped down beside me on one of the weathered, wood planks.

“I don’t know if I’m going to play next year,” he said.

“Oh. Getting too old?” I looked at him and smiled.

“Ah … It’s just not that fun,” he said.

“Even on days like today … when you blasted a couple of home runs and led your team to victory?”

“It’s cool but …”

“But what?”

“It’s the same old shit. Tomorrow, I’ll go to work at the mall and put in my eight hours. Then back to work the next day and on and on it goes.”

“Yeah. I know how that is.”

“I’ve been out of high school two years now,” he said. “My girlfriend wants to move things along. Know what I mean?”

“You mean, get married?”

Leggett shrugged. “Sure. Have a kid, start a family. The whole deal. I won’t have time for this.”

“Okay.”

“There’s gotta be more to life. Ya know?” He looked at me and then down at the ground.

“Like fishing?”

Leggett grinned. “Now that I can relate to.”

“Sure. Fishing is great.”

“Nothing like it,” he said.

“So. Go fishing.”

“I do man. Every chance I get. But it doesn’t change anything.”

“No, I suppose it doesn’t.”

“Like I said, I’m still stuck in that job and probably headed to the same old life everyone else has.”

“I guess it comes down to finding your passion.”

Leggett looked at me and then out at the field. The sun was low now and the trees along the first base line, some of which were just beginning to show their fall colors, were throwing long shadows across the green grass of the infield.

“You probably think I’m nuts for not taking one of those baseball scholarships a couple of years ago.” Leggett’s eyes narrowed in on me from beneath his baseball cap.

“What can I say? It was your decision.”

“Maybe I should have gone to school,” he said.

“Yeah … maybe.”

Leggett threw up his hands. “Aw hell … sometimes I drive myself crazy. Sometimes I think I am crazy.”

“Like I said, follow your passion.”

“Yeah … well. What the hell is my passion? Just tell me Grimes. What is it?”

“That’s for you to find out.”

We both sat there for a few moments staring out at the field.

“Sir Jon,” I said.

“What?” Leggett asked.

“Sir Jon. He’s this crazy mountain man who lives by himself not too far from here. You could become another Sir Jon.”

“And why would I become another Sir Jon?”

“He’s doing what he wants. He’s probably the most incredible fly fisherman I’ve ever seen.”

“Sir Jon?” Leggett looked at me with both suspicion and interest as if I’d just told him the lottery ticket he’d bought that morning had turned up a winner.

“A legend. But more importantly, a student of life.”

I didn’t know if I had gotten through to Leggett, a talented ballplayer who didn’t really like the game of baseball all that much, a kid who had spurned college scholarship offers to play. Leggett was like so many other kids on the verge of manhood, a bit lost but not hopeless, wondering what the hell he was going to be doing with his life for the next fifty years.

My reference to Sir Jon seemed to resonate with him, however. A hermit who’d given up a career to go live in the mountains and spend a lot of his time trout fishing seemed to appeal to Leggett.

“Sounds like the dude is doing what he wants to do,” Leggett said. “That’s cool.”

“It is cool.” I said.

“Yeah,” Leggett said.

He turned to me then. “Thanks man.”

“For what?”

“For giving me something to think about.”
He picked up his baseball bag and stuck out his hand.

“It’s been real,” he said.

“See you next season?” I asked.

He shrugged. “I doubt it. I think I’m done with baseball.” He took one last look out at the field. It was close to dusk by now, and the strange night calls of birds could be heard.

“Maybe I’ll look up that Sir Jon dude,” he said.

“Good luck,” I said.

“Yeah man.” He gave me a thumbs-up and headed across the field for his car parked out behind the right field fence. I watched his figure grow smaller and smaller in the fading light as he made his way across the outfield grass. And then, the engine of his car started up, and he was gone.

Sir Jon is a big part of this story I’m telling as is Leggett, even if you won’t read a whole lot about them. Keep their names in mind as you read on. Of course, the story is also about me, Nick Grimes.