Percy’s muse is central Oregon, an area I’m quite familiar with, having spent a lot of time down there (between Bend and the high desert in Christmas Valley to the south). Like Dickey’s fictional Cahulawassee River Valley, Percy’s setting for The Wilding, Echo Canyon, is a rugged wilderness slated for destruction.
Zenyatta would have no place at Indian Mound Downs racetrack in West Virginia. IMD is a home for has-beens and never-weres, the drifters and the longshots, the schemers and the hangers-on in Lord of Misrule. Jaimy Gordon loves this riff-raff – men, women, and horses alike.
I don’t think I could presume to answer that question given that American society is so extraordinarily complicated today and growing increasingly so by the day. It’s very difficult to follow a dream nowadays, but maybe that’s always been the case. Certainly the economics militate against it. It seems to me that there are more people than ever attempting to escape a straitjacket and yet because of the economy we’re more tied than ever to the great economic monsters for survival.
It’s like having Sam Clemens back with us again, resurfacing after 100 years to give us the once-over. I think he would have loved that idea and love the idea of creating such a stir with his avant garde Autobiography, the first part having just been released by the University of California Press. And it’s amazing that a writer 100 years ago can plan a century-delayed release with every confidence that it will come to pass and with the full support of his publisher who is willing to wait 100 years for the release date.
I’m trying to get to Mowgli not because I’m interested in him. I’m interested in his enemy, Shere Khan, the Tiger. Is there a name in literature that conjures up more magic and awe than “Shere Khan”? Okay, ‘Moby Dick” but Melville was no poet. Kipling is, and it shows to his advantage in the names of his characters. We have Mang the Bat and Rann the Kite. This is great naming, a neglected skill among our writers.
I am trying to imagine the excitement, the growing sense of astonishment, that Noah Eaker, the editor of The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, must have felt when reading this manuscript. Did he stop reading and stand up in his chair, unable to proceed without taking a pause for breath or to pull himself together?
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