Back in the Saddle #1: “The Lit’ry Life”

Which was the title of George V Higgins’ weekly survey of writing in the Boston Globe back in the seventies, which formed my template for my Review at Gray’s, which in some way led to my appearances here…

If I don’t blog a bit I get worried that I will never catch up to the world. It may be that nobody over sixty ever does. I have gotten the book moving, if not firing on all cylinders, and my Dino thing lined out, so…

 Helen’s H is for Hawk is taking off  and flying higher than any literary or nature book  have ever seen. Not only did she get the Samuel Johnson and the Costa, the former Whitbread; she also got not one but TWO raves in the New York Times, here and here; I like the first, though the mention of David Bowie’s teeth is odd; the second, maybe even better, quotes another wonderful nature writer and friend, Sy Montgomery, whose octopus book should be coming soon. Then yesterday, I picked up the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday “Review” section, and it had still another rave. It is wonderful when somebody who deserves it wins!

Famous long ago: I missed a generally hilarious, scandalous account of people I knew in their more decorous middle ages, and it brought me back to those seventies. Mile Marker Zero: the Moveable Feast of Key West, by William McKeen, is an account of the fishing and partying years of several writers I very much admire. But it is safe to say that there is a lot more partying than literature on view here. I am glad they (and, well, we) all got through our younger days more or less intact. It might help to know that Tom McGuane, who Libby and I know as a gracious host (and one who once wrote me the only condolence letter on the death of a dog I ever received), appears in this book much as the cameo he did in the cult movie Rancho Deluxe, which he also wrote. (It  was about modern rustlers in Montana, and was for a small bunch of young urban outdoorsmen around Boston what the Rocky Horror Picture Show was to art students. We could and did recite every line: “Cecil Colson, American Indian!” “Things is gettin’ positively romantic!” “I MISS Schenectady!” “I will not have a West that’s not free!”)

In the movie, playing in future brother in law Jimmy Buffet’s band in a Livingston bar he looks as though he is about to fall off the stage, and his hair is more than shoulder length. Libby, who knows him as a gentle, reserved kind of guy who has ranches and very short hair, was amazed. “This is our dignified Squire Tom?” To which I could only reply, “Back then his nickname was Captain Berserko!” Ah, youth (mine too). What I might add that even in this book of outrageous behavior, nobody works as hard as Squire Tom. NOBODY.

Here are appropriate images. The others in the top photo are Guy de la Valdene, who also lives a quiet life, writing by his pond on his quail plantation, and is coming out with a excellent new book about the hard- core fishing in those days, and the late “Poor old Richard” Brautigan.

Finally, a bit of self- promotion: the new edition of my Eagle Dreams, with a new cover and new intro, both by Cat Urbigkit, is apparently out, though I have not seen it; I am trying to find out if the new Edge of the Wild, with intro by Paula Young Lee, is.There is also an Audible book, available here; curiously, that page also shows the cover for the new Querencia edition, though Amazon doesn’t-??? Stay tuned…

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