Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Ragtime Fool is a Killer Book...and Introducing Mrs. Marjorie May Campbell

     Good news for the week: The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association selected The Ragtime Fool as one of its Killer Book recommendations for March.

     Now to the business at hand. Having read The Ragtime Fool, Mrs. Marjorie May Campbell, Brun's wife, has requested space to tell her side of the story of the Ragtime Fool. I'm glad to let her do that. The keyboard's yours, Mrs. Campbell.

     Well, hello. My name is Marjorie May Campbell. I was Brun Campbell's wife, and I'll say right off, if anybody was ever a Ragtime Fool, it was Brun.
     I want to thank Mr. Karp for letting me have my say on this blog of his. He promised not to change anything I write, and I intend to hold him to that. It's not that I think he wrote me up unfair, but there are always reasons why people do and say things, and if I come across a little bit prickly in his book, well, you  just try being married to Brun Campbell for upwards of 30 years.
     Brun and me got married in Oklahoma in 1918. I knew he had some bad habits, but don't all men? But he was very good looking then, and charming besides, and he promised sincerely, no more drinking, and no going to low places to play that ragtime music of his. He'd cut hair in his barber shop 6 days a week, and go to church on Sundays.
     Well, in the next seven years, we had three beautiful daughters. The youngest had asthma, and the doctors said we should move to Venice, California for her health. I was glad, even though I'd be leaving all my friends and family in Oklahoma, but I figured so would Brun, and it was them who kept getting him to drinking and playing ragtime, and I figured in California, we could start off new.  
     Not that it didn't work pretty good for a while. Every so often, Brun would fall off of the wagon, which did grieve me, but like my mother always told me, men are just plain going to do that, so I put up with it best I could. But then around 1940, these musicians in California, this Lu Watters and Turk Murphy, and I don't know who-all else began playing ragtime again, and people took note,. And that was all Brun needed to hear. I could put up with a drink here and there, but when he started playing ragtime on our piano, that was the last straw. I mean, that music is the devil's own, it leads young people into temptation, and the low places they go to hear it just pours gasoline on their fire. And it's not only the preachers who say it's bad - I've read lots of articles by medical doctors, brain specialists, and they all say the same thing. Ragtime can damage young peoples' brains. Well, I had to look out for my daughters, didn't I? I told Brun, no ragtime in the house, period, so he went and moved his piano into the garage out back. Sometimes he and his pals took it down to the barbershop a few blocks away. 
But that wasn't the end of it. He started spending all of his time writing articles for magazines about ragtime and that Scott Joplin person who invented it, who I figure he's burning in you know where on account of that. Then, Brun started to make records of it, and sent the money to Mrs. Joplin, who was still alive then in New York. Never mind what it cost us to make those records. I tried reminding Brun about his promises, but of course, he said he didn't remember making any such promises. Isn't that the living end? Well, you can believe who you want.
     Some man, his name was Paul Affeldt, came to interview Brun around 1948, and he brought along a Mr. Spiller, with some new music recording paraphernalia...hold on. Mr. Karp says I've got to stop here, else it's going to be too long for his blog. He says I can go on next week if I want, and I'll hold him to that.

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