Lou Berney’s novel “The Long and Faraway Gone” opens in Oklahoma City, August 1986. The oil bust had left empty buildings strewn about like carcasses. Downtown streets were empty, and the spirit had been sucked out of the people who remained.
August 1986 is also when I first arrived in Oklahoma City. Here I remained until early 1989. And here I returned in 2013, as does one of Berney’s protagonists.
Just sixty pages into the book, I’m revisiting scenes from my own time here in the mid to late ’80s — graffiti bridge on North Western; the wind’s constant slapping of the water ashore at Lake Hefner; late night shenanigans at Fair Lawn Cemetery, across the street from where I lived.
And the fictitious bar the Land Run, the only venue that hosts nationally touring underground bands like the Replacements, the Beat Farmers and Husker Du. There’s a striking resemblance to the Bowery, which was in the basement of what’s now the Plaza Court Building at Tenth and Walker.
I keep expecting to see myself in one of the scenes. In my mind, I already have.