Thursday, May 14, 2015

McGuane at the Strand

As promised. These have generated a lot of email (personal, off blog, though I would encourage them here) enough that I might start looking for such interviews. I will put some thoughts in reaction below (above?),  probably tomorrow...

OK, in-stream commentary to friends edited only for a minimum of sense and coherence:

"Living in the west, natives, newcomers, "Stickers". He conspicuously left out New Mexico, often an exception to easy rules. Given the ancient ethnes here-- well, just OLD for Navajos and Apaches, who just beat the Spanish- the old populations here, which I think still are more than half of our population-- any newcomer/ Anglo (includes, specifically, Italian here in Magdalena) has a chance at acceptance if he is what Stegner called a "sticker". Oldest ranch here is the Italian one, Sis Olney's (Pound ranch), and her great grandfather Joe Gianera came from the Swiss border about 18 miles from my gparents in 1859! John Davila considers his Davila ancestors parvenus becauise they married "UP into the Guttierez family" in 1820! Whereas the Guttierezes "... came up the river with Onate and took the place BACK!" after the Pueblo revolt. Gotta love that back... but it also means our church (big parish, San Miguel, Socorro) has a not always friendly rivalry going with Santa Fe as to who has the oldest church. Ours has the oldest wall, but had to incorporate it into a new one after the rebellion, because the Indians burned the old one...

"But despite (because of?), I surely am considered an old timer in this town, with pics, mostly hunting ones, on the bar wall, not because I am "famous" but because I live here and have hung out there for three incarnations of the bar and a couple of generations of humans. As I said to my (75 year old!) friend Lawrence Aragon last year when he lamented the dearth of old- timers: WE, los borrachos perdidos- the surviving ones anyway-- are the old timers!

"So, Stegner's "Stickers". A good concept- though are we ones entirely by choice, or does economics play a part? The Stickers are often poor enough they might not do as well in richer placers, though McGuane and some others are exceptions. I wonder that any distance he feels from his neighbors might be because he is wealthy rather than an incomer-- it puts up barriers. Certainly he has a good rep as a man who knows horses, all the way down  here.

(Jackson and Eli both were born in Santa Fe, and they can make a case for Eli being a 4th Gen Gringo SANTA FEAN, not just NMexican-- pretty rare and cool...)

"With my crappy typing these days this feels like a dissertation, but a few more thoughts. Stegner fellowships at Stanford: did he like ANYBODY? McGuane, Robert Stone, Kesey, Shetzline-- all were told they were lazy, beatniks, hippies, drug addicts- being selected seems to have meant success of sorts, but not from him. Back in MT it was as bad-- Bud Guthrie AFAIK disliked without exception every incomer, and once told someone I know that anyone who moved there and bought a horse or rodeo'd was a poseur and a phony and he didn't have to read them. Harsh, and ridiculous...

"McGuane's lament for a more playful and less minimalist fiction rang true to me- his old stuff had more sheer FUN in it, prosodically anyway. I blame the influence-- baneful influence, however he is regarded, of Raymond Carver. Luckily the South has somewhat escaped this-- read Barry Hannah, much mentioned, and Brad Watson , two good examples. (Both Tom and Brad have written affectionate memories of THAT wild man).  And then there are crazy Catholic memoirists and poets like Mary Karr..

"Tom gave a shout- out to not just Helen but Helen's friend Olivia Laing and her great book on drunkenness in writers, The Trip to Echo Spring. What can I say- that it is an ENJOYABLE book on drunkenness, celebrating the writers if not their excesses; that it is utterly free of cant or twelve step religion; that it is  a road book, by a naturalist, about Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Carver, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, and John Cheever, that got me reading at least one (Cheever) again? That I once got an email from her in New Hampshire with an attached photo of my Good Guns Again, Blogger " Doctor Hypercube's" Arrieta, and the remains of bacon and eggs on the table?  Read her!

"Last: I enjoy his short stories but if he is really working on a novel about his family I am excited, hope it is BIG, and also hope it will go back to the "Irish Riviera", South Shore of Boston all the way around to Providence, where his roots (always acknowledged) are. Of course he has told me to do the same, just from bits in my pigeon book...

"I wish he would write more about bird dogs and guns and horses, at least as much as fish. (did you see him call to Nick Lyons in the audience?)"


Larry Gavin said...

Hereness and newness are real but claiming place seems a bit daft when all places are pretty much the same. At least I've never known one better than any other, except when made so by my brain. As a writer it is what you "do" with place that matters. My current favorite place is the Red Lake MN reservation. As interesting for miles of swamp and pesky bugs as for its people. Though they are interesting too.

We adore "me first" hierarchies, but Newness frequently brings insight. Good people are recognized as good people wherever they are.

This coming from someone that lived for 12years in a town of 350. Was elected mayor twice, and didn't stick. I knew I needed trout and woodcock. Although I still miss the catfish and bluestem.

GW said...

I really enjoyed this interview...I too wish we could get a bird hunting equivalent to The Longest Silence!!