Question #17 -With guest A Bone Martinez
This week brings something truly special. Craig Johnson got to pose a question and have it answered by actor A Martinez, who brilliantly portrayed Jacob Nighthorse, a pivotal role in the Longmire television series.
We were talking after one of the “Conversations With” at Longmire Days with star A Martinez. He expressed how much he enjoyed the Q&A feature, “52 Pickup” and the insights granted by author Craig Johnson.
“You know,” Mr. Johnson said to Mr. Martinez, “you should write one, about your character in ‘Depth of Winter’. Just don’t give away any plot lines.” This last he said with a grin, but his eyes were serious as a heart attack.
A graciously shook my hand and said, “I’d love to. We’ll get in touch and work it out.” True to his word, Mr. Martinez authored this week’s wonderful answer to the question (mostly) posed by Craig Johnson himself.
“Jacob Nighthorse is one of the central characters in the Longmire TV series but does not appear in the books. The Dr. Adan Martinez who appears in the upcoming book ‘Depth of Winter’ is based on you. What similarities are there between the two characters and how do you feel about “your” appearance in the newest addition to the Longmire book series?”
If memory serves, I was close to speechless when Craig first let on that there might be a character in the new book sharing certain attributes of mine –– and sharing my name, as well. In the flood of feelings that the news released, I was at a bit of a loss…
First things first: DEPTH OF WINTER is an unforgettable book.
And would be so, for me, even if Dr. Adan Martinez were not prominently featured, and critical to the Sheriff’s fortunes in the tale. Of all the journeys I’ve taken with Walt, this one may well be my favorite. (Like the Sheriff, I’m a father. And with Cady in jeopardy, the weight of his fears put a lump in my throat from the get.)
In every aspect –– the stakes of its narrative, its typically effortless humor, the vivid characters we get to meet along the way, the captivating set pieces and surprising departures, the exquisitely observed, multi-faceted spirit of the main man himself and the malignant power of his antagonist, and most memorably, the brilliantly ordained details of its breathtaking climax –– this writing is the work of a master at the height of his powers.
Most of us have come to take Walt’s courage for granted by now. But here, Mr. Johnson offers us our hero tested to the razor’s edge of his capacities –– and his conscience. Throughout, the imagining of his choices –– survival and honor dueling in the balance ––provides the most highly provocative food for thought.
“On my best day, how would I measure myself beside this man?”
Some seven years ago, I recall the small pang of regret that lodged in me upon the realization that Jacob Nighthorse did not appear in any of the Longmire books. But I’ve gotta say –– having someone like the good Doctor Martinez find a place in Walt’s published firmament has washed that regret clean away.
That the author cast Martinez as someone who once surrendered his professional place in society, rather than assent to the practice of state-endorsed torture, is a decision I will wear forever like a badge of honor.
Likewise, the radical in Jacob animates the core of what I most admire in him. (“Radical” as in pertaining to the “root” of the thing –– as in Jacob’s understanding that modest measures will not suffice as remedy to the ancestral dynamics and ongoing residue of attempted genocide.)
Emotionally, we are living in such an unsettling period of history. (Billions have certainly had it worse, but we don’t inhabit their lives and times, and have difficulty finding solace in that thought.)
It seems to me that the genius of Walt Longmire lies in his capacity to carry the rugged courage and straightforward accountability of the Great American Western Hero, even as he maintains the more nuanced perspective and curiosity of spirit that seems to follow those who’ve steeped themselves in the literary inheritance of all the world. It’s not an accident that so many of us –– on so wide a scale –– find tremendous comfort in his presence.
There’s a quiet, early-morning, coffee-drinking moment in DEPTH OF WINTER when Walt –– alone with a woman who’s already in love with him after knowing him but a day –– drops out of conversation with her.
He’s imagining the horrors ahead in his quest to get to Cady –– if indeed she hasn’t already been lost to the monster who took her –– and bring her home.
Mr. Johnson writes: “[H]er eyes went back to the mountains and mine followed. The peaks carried a golden light that crept down on the ridges above the canyon like the wax from a melting candle, and it was hard to believe the place was a harbinger of evil.”
His companion looks at him and says, “You are crying.”
“Sorry,” he says, with a laugh, and wipes away a single tear.
And then, after a silence… “I miss normalcy.”
Don’t we all.
I can’t recommend DEPTH OF WINTER more highly.