I saw Robert Walker interviewed on a Sunday news program immediately following the publication of the now famous THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. His narrative describing the emergence of the novel fascinated me. He spoke as if the characters were somehow inside him crying for their story to be told. I had to read this book. Next thing I knew, BRIDGES made the best sellers list. This was in the early 90's. The book became a common topic of conversation among my friends. In fact, one friend and I spoke of the book a great deal. It is a book to make one think and discuss.
A year or so later, I came across SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND - quite by accident. When I made the connection with THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, I immediately purchased the book, read it, then shared it with my friend with whom I had long discussions about Walker's first novel. Frankly, I liked SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND much better than THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. I remember seeing myself in the main character. This character, Michael Tillman, mesmerized me.
Twelve years later, I was looking for a book on tape to keep me company on a long lonely drive, I bought SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND forgetting that I read the novel 12 years earlier. During the second reading (or listening), I found that I enjoyed the author's writing and his imagery, but didn't find any connection between the main character and me. In fact, I didn't realize that I had read this novel before until I got to the part where Michael Tillman finds Jellie Braden on an Island in India. Reading this book for a second time was a fascinating experience. I continued to enjoy Walker's writing style, but the novel had a much different emotional impact on me. I suspect that my two experiences were the result of the author's crafty skill with the written word.
For those, who read SLOW WALTZ IN CEDAR BEND when it first some out, I recommend to read it again. In fact, I think I'll listen to it on my next trip.