Then Whiteclay. A short strip of something less town and more desolation row. Men and a few women loitered in front of the four beer stores. Some held tall boy cans of malt liquor in paper bags. Though it was mid-afternoon in the winter, well below freezing, the activity carried on with a stilted determination.
Where did you hear that?! I don’t believe it. I thought I was the only one.
Writing this was hard. I was very lucky to be edited by Chad Harbach, who spent many months (6? I forget. Possibly more) working on it with me. My writing group — Bennett, Anya and Lukas — also read several drafts and helped a lot. I would like to dedicate its appearance on the internet to the memory of Raffles, who cost me a lot of money but was worth every penny. I still miss you, buddy.
I have heard from my publishing sources that many, many writers (6? I forget. Possibly more) work a full-time job and write their books at night, on weekends, or in the morning.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized from cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step by step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days.
The Figure a Poem Makes
Then there was nothing but the air and the swiftness of the little cloud that bore me and those two men still leading up to where white clouds were piled like mountains on a wide blue plain, and in them thunder beings lived and leaped and flashed.
Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three were alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy hills and mountains staring at us; and it was very still; but there were whispers.
Then the men spoke together and they said: “Behold him, the being with four legs!”
I looked and saw a bay horse standing there, and he began to speak: “Behold me!” he said, “My life-history you shall see.” Then he wheeled about to where the sun goes down, and said: “Behold them! Their history you shall know.”
I looked, and there were twelve black horses yonder all abreast with necklaces of bison hoofs, and they were beautiful, but I was frightened, because their manes were lightning and there was thunder in their nostrils.
Black Elk Speaks
The sharp and brittle crack and clatter of its weathered and ungreased wood and metal is slow and terrific: a series of dry sluggish reports carrying for half a mile across the hot still pinewiney silence of the August afternoon. Though the mules plod in a steady and unflagging hypnosis, the vehicle does not seem to progress. It seems to hang suspended in the middle distance forever and forever, so infinitesimal is its progress, like a shabby bead upon the mild red string of road. So much so is this that in the watching of it the eye loses it as sight and sense drowsily merge and blend, like the road itself, with all the peaceful and monotonous changes between darkness and day, like already measured thread being rewound onto a spool. So that at last, as though out of some trivial and unimportant region beyond even distance, the sound of it seems to come slow and terrific and without meaning, as though it were a ghost travelling a half mile ahead of its own shape. ‘That far within my hearing before my seeing,’ Lena thinks. She thinks of herself as already moving, riding again, thinking Then it will be as if I were riding for a half mile before I even got into the wagon, before the wagon even got to where I was waiting, and that when the wagon is empty of me again it will go on for a half mile with me still in it She waits, not even watching the wagon now, while thinking goes idle and swift and smooth, filled with nameless kind faces and voices: Lucas Burch? You say you tried in Pocahontas? This road? It goes to Springvale. You wait here. There will be a wagon passing soon that will take you as far as it goes Thinking, ‘And if he is going all the way to Jefferson, I will be riding within the hearing of Lucas Burch before his seeing. He will hear the wagon, but he wont know. So there will be one within his hearing before his seeing. And then he will see me and he will be excited. And so there will be two within his seeing before his remembering.’
Light In August
Pioneers Press’ own Adam Gnade was interviewed by Dani Tauber over at The Aquarian magazine’s MEDIOxCORE column!
He was asked for his Top Five DIY Tips, pertaining to musicians. Here it is! Hooray!
Some kids were listening to music in a car when a white man took issue with, well, their existence. And he was armed, and he was in Florida though let us not confuse Michael Dunn’s murder of Jordan Davis for a Florida anomaly.
I listen to music loudly in my car all the time. I used to worry…
How I Failed to Not Read White Men in 2014
It started off so well. James Baldwin. Jennifer Egan. Then the copy of Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” sitting on the shelf over the toilet became irresistible. I thought I could get away with sneaking a story here and there, not telling anyone. Blowing the smoke out the bathroom window. I read all of it in a week. Then my mom gave me a copy of “Black Elk Speaks” and I thought this is perfect. A book written by a Lakota Sioux man fits what I’m trying to do. I’ll be visiting Whiteclay and the Pine Ridge Reservation this week. This is good research. I started reading it and realized that it’s a tale told to a white man, John Neihardt. And I’m not going to stop reading it.
This was my only New Year’s resolution and I failed miserably. February’s not even over yet. I hope your resolutions lasted longer than mine.
"There was peace before this book came out, and once the hubbub subsides, if I don’t get lynched, maybe there will be peace again. I like having my own kitchen, bookshelves, a garden, freight trains across the street, good neighbors, my son over there playing his piano. I don’t know about contentment. I’m used to contentment being a signal that I’m about to get slammed, so I’m dubious about contentment."