cover image Old Songs in a New Cafe

Old Songs in a New Cafe

Robert James Waller. Warner Books Inc, $30 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51798-0

Waller, whose novels The Bridges of Madison County and Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend are current bestsellers, here offers 19 essays previously published in the Des Moines Register between 1983 and 1989 and in two book collections. As he acknowledges, some of the pieces do not warrant reprinting; others, however, convey a quiet humor and sensitivity that his fiction readers will enjoy. Among these are a memoir of a beloved cat, accounts of Waller's teenaged experiences with basketball and billiards, reflections on turning 50 and an engaging tribute to Charlie Uban, who flew cargo planes during WW II. Waller--a professor of management at the University of Northern Iowa, a bar musician and a photographer--exhibits a refreshing modesty in many of these pieces. (Apr.)