Monthly Archives: June 2023

June 27/23

It hardly seems like June with the heat back again full force and this seems to have brought out the scorpions. Here’s one under blacklight — ewwww. But it’s the only way I have found to get rid of them. Go out after dark and look around with blacklight flashlight and spray them with Raid Wasp and Hornet and they thrash around and die horribly, all in glowing blue and it is a gratifying sight.

They glow very brightly. They all seem to congregate on the west-facing back outside wall, the hottest place. I stepped on one getting up in the middle of the night which I regret extremely and have for the past three days.

But other than that, wonderful visitors including Susan Paddlety-Dunlap, Kiowa from Oklahoma, decorative artist and unofficial ambassador for the People, who tells me her mother was a cousin to Scott Momaday and said Momaday had a beautiful reading voice, and I mean to find him on Youtube so I can hear his voice. Although she’s not a horsewoman I saddled up Jackson and she made a great picture seated on the palomino. We had a good day. She brought me one of her favorite books, The Ten Grandmothers plus she had made me a wonderful bookmarker. She brought back my old copy of A Quaker Among the Indians by Thomas Beattey which, although it has the attitudes of the 1890’s still has useful information about the Kiowa plus very good lithos of various tribal members, which I intend to have framed one of these days.

We had a great visit! I only get to see her once a year when she and her husband come down from Fort Worth but it’s always a delightful and informative time even if it was 100 F.

I said, “Oh wow, is that a Johnny Was shirt?”

“No, but it looks like one, it’s a Johnny Wasn’t.”

The heat has hovered around 106 and more every day for more than a week and I am keeping my elderly horse Buck up in the front corral shelter with a mister on him. he stands in it all day. I put up a box fan for him but he doesn’t like it.

I texted this to my cousin in Missouri and she replied that she loved the sunset picture — I said, ‘That’s the sunrise! And hot already!’

Buck standing under the mister.

June 24th was the PRCA rodeo here, I went down to see what was happening and saw friends Hattie Barham, the wonderful photographer, up on her stand as always, sat by Robin Moore bank clerk and her husband and kids. There was bronc riding, calf roping, breakaway roping for women, and barrel racing. Everybody trying to make points to continue on the competitive circuit toward the NFR in Vegas this fall.

As soon as they announced the bull riding, the pickup men and clowns gathered instantly. On guard, on watch.

My photos are terrible and so is my little camera, Hattie of course will have beautiful images. She was a professional journalist photographer and traveled the world for quite a few years, for AFP and others. She and her husband now own a well service company here and are very busy with all the new people moving in since Covid.

Then yesterday Michael and Naomi Nye came out from San Antonio — they had been to the Flato ranch near Rocksprings, and I was so delighted to see them again! I had not seen them since they lost their beloved son to Covid. We had long talks, good lunch at the Lost Maples cafe and a visit here at my house. Naomi (world’s greatest poet) brought me a splendid book self-printed by a historian of letters from the 1860’s to 1880’s a real treasure, as it will have a wealth of details from that time period. Michael took some pictures which I will put up later on as he hasn’t sent them yet. A very special time with them.

And that’s it for June 27th

6/18/23 Cormac McCarthy RIP

He had such a liberating influence on my own writing…that is, All The Pretty Horses did. The book was a surprising, even shocking discovery. He threw away all the conventions of the literary novel — passive, over-sensitive protagonists, the urban environment, intricate social treachery, status attacks and ambushes etc. — and yet it was a ‘literary’ novel. Or as Northrop Frye would define it, a romance, which is related to the tale, the story. Things happen. Everything is at stake.

foto NYT

So from there I went on to The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, Sutteree, and these went back to the passive protagonist novel, which is difficult to read, complicated to excuse, and boring to slog through no matter how gorgeous the prose and his prose was nothing short, sometimes, of miraculous.

I subscribe to Lincoln Michel’s substack Counter Craft and in his tribute to McCarthy he notes the stylistic shift from the early Southern Gothic novels (which he prefers) to the later southwestern books (Pretty Horses, No Country For Old Men, The Road etc.), remarking that his prose became more stripped down and spare. Respectfully, that’s not altogether true. What happened was that his main characters, his protagonists, begin to show up moving, doing, fighting, thinking ahead, with the plot evolving and smoking around them.

I’ve written about this problem before on my blog so I won’t go into it except to say a writer has an increasingly intractable problem with a passive protagonist as his/her work goes on in that you have to have more and more horrible things happening to your main character in order to keep the work moving forward. The reader gives up in frustration as Protag cowers and suffers yet again. There are many, many articles online concerning this aspect of character-building, just type in ‘passive protagonist’ and don’t let me bore you any more with it.

This is what the screenwriter did with the character of Captain Kidd in the movie version of News of the World — he robbed the Captain of all intelligence, all agency, all instrumentality. The Captain just seemed to get stupider as the movie went on and all the work fell on the shoulders of a poor, traumatized ten-year-old girl. It made Jefferson Kyle Kidd seem lazy if not actually devious; a taker. A parasite.

So McCarthy stepped out of this snare with Pretty Horses and the book — the romance — is a masterpiece. I admire it enormously. Plot matters. And as in the best literature language becomes a kind of life-form, independent of the writer with its own eternally evolving parameters of tension and pressure and density and perilous beauty. As in a summer thunderhead.

If you look carefully at the character of Gene Harrogate in Suttree you will see that McCarthy knew he was too good to abandon and that he was as yet unborn or undeveloped and so he appeared later in Pretty Horses as Jimmy Blevins, but far harder and a born criminal. He was perfectly drawn and utterly believable.

However; one tires of the endless depictions of glossy, breathtaking violence in Blood Meridian and of McCarthy’s bottomless fascination with rotting bodies, decay, wet garbage and the startling effects of unchecked disease upon eyes or teeth. It never goes anywhere. He kept this in the lower registers in his later southwestern novels and that, along with the assertive, intelligent character of his protagonists is what makes his later novels so great.


Yoga Kitty

You can tell I am desperate for some subject to make a blog post with (dangling participle) when I put up silly cat pictures.

Yoga Kitty says, stay organized.

Do not despair. Despair is for those who are disorganized and can’t find their socks or their notes or their place in the Universe, even though the Universe is directly outside their windows knocking, knocking, knocking on the glass. Be here now, says Yoga Kitty, because being there then is …I forget.

Never mind.

The uncorrected galleys, the Advanced Reader’s Copies, are out and a box of twenty was mailed to me and I am giving them away like sample medications that your doctor hands to you instead of you having to pay $500 per bottle. Chenneville is restorative and hypnotic, you’ll never be the same again.

It’s going to rain again.

End of totally mindless post.