I am nearing the completion of my novel Snow Babies. The editor, Jessie Cornwell, sent it back to me with the third read-through completed. I am now closing in on a completed final draft ready to go to print. And I am posting this post to acknowledge that the character of the hobo with the quilted jacket for a coat is indeed me. Well, as close to being me as a fictional character who may or may not be an angel can come. I admit I am probably not as good as Lucky Catbird Sandman is good.
But I am a man who is basically a Walt Whitman-type poet-y sort of man in a cartoony sort of way. That is what the Catbird really is.
He wears a coat of many colors which is made up of many varicolored patches. Each patch in the crazy quilt of his coat stands for a memory of the many people he has known and the problems he has solved. He helps the main character of the story, a small-town Iowa girl named Valerie Clarke, as her little town is besieged by a terrible blizzard. The Trailways bus is stranded near the town, and on the bus are four orphan boys, running away to nowhere and desperately needing the intervention of the angels to help them escape the lives they’ve left behind. Catbird spins miracles out of random things and random snatches of Walt Whitman’s poetry. He carries around a copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and he quotes from it like a Bible. So, he is a me-character because he was born in my goofy brain and represents no real person living or dead. He is more of a literary device than a man… just like me. And that is notable because all the other players in the story are based on real people that I have known, either in Iowa or Texas, real people who have been a significant part of my real life.
I believe this is why the novel is the most important thing I have ever written. It is because, if I ever found any real worthy wisdom to spread around like jam on bread, it is to be found in this book. It is the best thing I have ever written and published. At least, so far. And the mysterious stranger character, the man in the coat of many colors, Catbird… is me. Judge for yourself if I am not like him.