Check out a piece in Iowa City’s Little Village here
Nominated for Southeastern Bookseller Association’s Book of the Year!
Watch the first part of the book’s documentary.
Harry Ducharme is at the end of his rope. Booze and bad decisions have taken him from the A-list of talk radio fame down to a tiny cinder-block station, WWHD, in St. Augustine, Florida. He talks, mostly to himself, from 10 pm to 2 am. Not sure anybody is listening, reading books and poetry that he likes, not caring if anyone agrees with him, playing golden-oldies from the Sixties, and wondering how he got there. Above all, he’s convinced he is not a good man.
Then, as a hurricane pounds north Florida, Harry gets a visitor. An old black man who calls himself Peter Prophet, announcing the imminent arrival of a “New Child of God.” Harry is a bit skeptical. Harry is surrounded by men and women with their own burdens to carry. Captain Jack Tunnel is the morning host, more right-wing than Rush, with a cranky parrot co-host named Jimmy Buffett, but who also has a gentle secret life. Nora James is the mysterious “cooking woman” who broadcasts from her home kitchen, but whom nobody has ever seen. Harry falls in love with Nora because of her voice and spends his first year in town trying to find her, only to discover that her whereabouts are a communal secret, revealed only to a select few. Carlos Friedmann has the 2–6 am slot, a fourth-generation Jewish Cuban who cannot speak Spanish, but whose forte is to broadcast fake interviews with Fidel Castro. Harry’s role in the New Child’s arrival eventually becomes intertwined with politics, Iraq, 9/11, old-time religion, and classic American literature from writers like Flannery O’Connor and Emily Dickinson, as well as the music of Harry Chapin. A good man is always hard to find, but Harry Ducharme finally succeeds as he meets the New Child of God in a final and unforgettable scene of death and redemption.
Larry Baker is the author of The Flamingo Rising which was adapted by Hallmark for a television movie. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa.