458 Slices
Medium 9781771870825

Below McIntyre Bluff: Notes from a Year

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub


Terry Glavin


I. The Chiming of A Clock

IT’S FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, and it’s snowing. The snow was already starting to cover the whole island yesterday afternoon, and by dinnertime nothing was moving between Miners Bay and Horton Bay Road. With the snow there is also rain and sleet, because the wind is coming from the southwest now. It is coming from out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and rolling through Boundary Pass. It is pouring over Heck Hill and Mount Parke and rushing across the tops of the trees.

It’s snowing and raining like this everywhere, all across the North Pacific, from Pacheena Point to the Kurile Islands, and beneath the dappled surface of the ocean the great runs of sockeye salmon are swimming through this same night. They came from the Copper River and Bristol Bay, from the Skeena and the Nass, from the Fraser and the Columbia, and now they are a quarter-turn of the planet distant from this coast, and they are moving in their millions, in broad, sweeping arcs, the young in their first winter at sea, and the old in their last.

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5. Books

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

There are probably words addressed to our condition exactly, which, if we could really hear and understand, would be more salutary than the morning or spring to our lives, and possibly put a new aspect on the face of things for us. How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. (76)

For Thoreau, the book that marked “a new era in his life” was Emerson’s Nature, published in the fall of 1836 and checked out of the Harvard library by Thoreau the following spring. He was ready for it: having been examined by Emerson on rhetoric in 1835, he had by 1837 won the older man’s support for some of Harvard’s prize money. More importantly, Emerson’s “manifesto of transcendentalism” suited Thoreau’s interest in reconciling his own avidity for nature with an emerging intellectual ambition. In Walden’s terms, Thoreau was “a prepared field.”

Although he writes dismissively of his own college education, Walden’s enormous number of allusions suggests just how bookish Thoreau was. In fact, as Richardson details, he read omnivorously, working fluently in the major European languages, as well as Latin and Greek. But his choice of reading seems strange, perhaps offering a clue to this mysterious man and his mysterious book. Thoreau, of course, was steeped in the classics, having a special fondness for Homer, but as he grew older, his taste became less and less literary: Goethe and Carlyle, yes, but mostly things like books on Eastern religions, tracts on Canadian history and Indian life, Cato’s treatise on farming, natural history (especially botany), travel books (a guilty pleasure), William Gilpin on landscape painting, the Jesuit Relations (forty-one accounts of the Jesuit missions to Canada’s Indians), Darwin. Thoreau showed no interest in fiction: although he knew Robinson Crusoe, he apparently never read any of his friend Hawthorne’s novels. When we remember that Thoreau was born in 1817, four years after Pride and Prejudice, the following list of books he appears never to have looked at seems suggestive:

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Ford, Ford Madox Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

In ‘Literary Causeries: XII: On Causeries as Such’, Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine (Paries, 4 May 1924), 3, Ford tells a story he calls ‘the Hotel Sublime’, with a plot very similar to ‘Enigma’, saying: ‘There then is the story which was told me as being true. I present it to the reader, for as far as I can see I shall never make use of it myself’. He then proposes – in the manner Hemingway was to parody with such gusto in The Torrents of Spring – a competition for ‘the best “full-dress” arrangement of the story called the Hotel Sublime and told either as an after dinner anecdote or as a short story’. The typescript of ‘Enigma’ predates these comments, however, by at least eighteen months.

‘What should one do,’ the young man who had been in my battalion asked, ‘in such circumstances?’

‘It doesn’t,’ I answered, ‘seem to me to be a difficult question to answer.’ I had been the sort of Dutch uncle to so many of these nicish boys for five years or so; it was natural that he should come to me for advice. Besides I had given him the reference that, along with his agreement, he still held in his hand. ‘I should just sit tight – if your nerves will stand it. You’ve tried the police; you’ve tried the solicitor; you’ve tried the telephone; you’ve got the agreement.’ ‘It’s rather… ghostly! That’s what it is,’ he answered uncertainly. ‘But I think my nerves will stand it.’ He added that every time that he came up from the bottom of the rough meadow and entered the low parlour he expected to see Mrs Rockingham-Denman sitting in a chintz cane arm-chair; and he expected to jump. And he couldn’t afford to be made to jump. ‘But of course,’ he finished, ‘she’d probably be in the kitchen making the tea!’

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Excerpt from Brother · Fiction

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Jambiani Beach no.1. Black and white photograph (digital). ©2008 Isaak Liptzin.

a forthcoming novel*

HE WAS MY brother. The one who told me about lightning and girls. The one who crouched beside me in hideouts when we were little. His shoulder thin and bare against mine, his body always just a skin away. That summer when we were only seven and eight and we climbed the sappy pine busting out of the asphalt behind the 7-Eleven. Days after reaching for each other’s hands to smell and name what clung there still. (‘It’s Mr. Clean,’ my brother finally said, nailing it.) That fall of the same year when he led me to the road-side ditch off Lawrence Avenue and piled the loose and blowing stuff of this land over our bodies like a blanket, hoping for cover. Leaves of orange and red, dried weeds and twigs. Also trash like paper and foil and the many shredded plastic bags blown here from fast food shops. Our hats camouflaged all guerilla style with twigs and mashed up drinking straws. Our faces already the color of earth.

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Part 5 The Present Past

Wissing, Douglas A. Indiana University Press ePub

Famous pose of Indiana outlaw John Dillinger holding a Thompson machine gun in one hand and a pistol in the other, circa 1930s.

Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company Collection, P 130.

BANK ROBBER JOHN DILLINGER CAME BACK TO CROWN HILL on Wednesday July 5, 1934, three days after he had died in a rain of bullets outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater. His killing ended a nearly yearlong escapade that had captured America’s imagination. During his rampage, he and his gang had stolen $300,000 in multiple bank robberies, including $21,000 from Indianapolis’s Massachusetts Avenue Bank on September 6, 1933. When casing banks and jails, Dillinger’s gang had been wily: posing as Indiana State Police, bank security alarm salesmen, and movie executives scouting for locations. Dillinger had escaped supposedly impregnable jails, once with a carved wooden gun. “See what I locked all of you monkeys up with,” he laughed at his disarmed jailers as he turned the key on them. For months Dillinger led hundreds of police officers and federal agents on a wild chase across four states. To some Great Depression-ravaged Americans who had lost farms and homes to voracious banks and felt abandoned by an uncaring government, Dillinger looked like a Hoosier Robin Hood. To the authorities who counted as many as twenty-three people killed by the gang, John Dillinger was Public Enemy Number 1.

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