Tag Archives: Ben Rehder

Ben Rehder Visits our Book Club

A “halo” appears above the head of Susan Mayson for inviting Ben Rehder to our book club. Richard Slagle, on the right, has read everything Ben has written.

It’s no secret here that I’m a big fan of Ben Rehder. His novel The Chicken Hanger is one of my all-time favorites. At my urging, our little book club read it, loved it, and Susan Mayson decided to invite the author to our meeting.  He graciously accepted, even flexed when presented with a time change.

He would probably want me to comment on the shirt he’s wearing in the photo. He’s promoting not a book, but Emancipet, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, and  Clear the Shelters day.

Ben is best known for his very funny book series about a Blanco County (TX) game warden, and fans are eagerly awaiting the  book he’s currently working on. (I envy Ben for being able to write a book in eight or nine months.) A newer series, the Roy Ballard Mysteries,  features a private investigator. The first book in each series is free for Kindle users: Buck Fever and Gone the Next, respectively.

In discussing The Chicken Hanger, a book I recently wrote about on this blog, people were surprised he’d written it in 2007. Ben said in his research for the book, border issues have scarcely changed over the years. “You see headlines of fifty years ago that could have been written today.”

I told him that his books are being recorded by the Texas Talking Book Program, which he seemed glad to hear. In my seven years of volunteering with Talking Book, I’ve noticed there’s almost always a Ben Rehder book in the process of being recorded.

I’d love to have talked to him about self-publishing, which he turned to after having a legacy publisher for his earlier books. But I respected that our group is a book club, not a writing club.

Book club members loved the book, and I asked Ben how we can best promote it. He said, “Tell your friends.”

Quotable

When I’m writing, I write, and then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, Okay, Okay, I’ll come.

–Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

The Chicken Hanger: a Story for our Times

I don’t fancy myself a book reviewer. But I want to tell you about a novel that has stayed with me for several years, one I feel is in keeping with today’s messed up management of the border. The book is The Chicken Hanger, by Ben Rehder. He’s been called the Carl Hiassen of Texas for his comic crime novel series: The Blanco County Mysteries and The Roy Ballard Mysteries.

But The Chicken Hanger is a literary novel, quite a departure from Rehder’s usual work.  The story is about Ricky Delgado, who crossed the border into Texas illegally and works with other migrants at Kountry Fresh Chicken in Rugoso, Texas.  When the story begins, he’s sick, but going to work nevertheless, at the worst job he’s ever had. He’s a chicken hanger, meaning that he grabs squawking chickens one at a time from a crate as they enter the plant and hangs them from shackles on an overhead conveyor belt.  Of all the workers doing live hang, he is the fastest–30 birds a minute.

Learning that his brother has been shot and injured trying to cross into Texas, Ricky must decide if it’s worth seeking justice, a move that could expose him and lead to his deportation. And he faces another dilemma when he learns what is making him and other workers at the plant sick.

A big reason the story succeeds is that it’s not limited to the immigrant perspective. A rancher, who tries to scare off immigrants with warning shots, finds a bloodied backpack and engages in a cover-up. A Border Patrol agent faces the toughest decision of his career.

Btw, I encountered this novel several years ago when my husband, Tim, narrated it for the Texas Talking Book Program. He subsequently narrated Hog Heaven, a book in The Blanco County Mystery series. The story is as funny as The Chicken Hanger is sobering.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Quotable

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

–John Green