Some authors, like some company, are enchanting in small doses and exhausting in big lumps. J. California Cooper is one such writer. In short doses, her confidential, back-porch style of writing is flattering, like a neighborhood friend letting you in on a secret. So Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns is a perfect display of Cooper at her best: brief, bright, and friendly. A typical story, ďAs Time Goes By,Ē begins ďThis story happened in this small town to a friend of mineÖ.Ē. You can practically hear the porch chairs scoot closer together.
Too, in small doses, Cooperís constant references to the Will of God feel like narrative asides instead of narrative anvils. Itís easy to accept a little front-porch preaching from the woman telling you about her friend she grew up with - you know, the pretty one - rather than a lot of distant advice from a third-person narrator.
Cooperís stories are never complicated, focusing on simple, familiar morals that nonetheless seem to need repeating for some people. Donít look for happiness in another person. Donít mistake sex for love. Donít mistake money for success. Donít let fear keep you from a good thing, or push you into a bad one.
Donít go to a nightclub after church and get involved in an orgy.
Okay, that last one is probably not useful too often. But when it is relevant, youíd do well to listen to J.California Cooperís warning, because that sort of thing always ends in tears.
But most of the tales end in smiles, or at least in some enlightenment and some chance of hope. If people are led astray by bad choices and lack of faith, well, thereís at least the chance that good choices might right them again. There are precious few midnight suns, but with a little guidance, a few wild stars might find them.