Sunday, April 26, 2009

LA Times Festival of Books

Another excellent time today at four fiction panels.The first described here. Dark humor abounded with novelist and screenwriter Jerry Stahl playing everyone and everything as his straight man on two panels. Good stuff.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

McGuane on Hunting

Wall Street Journal Sports

An excellent essay as only Tom McGuane could live and write. I know how honored I was when he invited me to the ranch in McLeod, Montana. I pulled in one Sunday afternoon in the fall on my way to fish the West Boulder River, upstream of Michael Keaton, Tom M., Tom Brokaw and Walter Kirn. I drove through his open gate down into the ranch. His pack of dogs greeted me en masse. I parked and went up to the old log ranch house escorted by the dogs and knocked on the door.

The window to my right framed the bald head of a familiar music figure, and quite a good novelist in his own right. Tom came to the door and we exchanged pleasantries. His brother in law blew in from Alabama, he said. I glanced at the SUV with Bama plates in the driveway. We talked about our visit in Missoula two weeks prior at the book festival where he spoke and we met formally after I interviewed him for a story in the local paper where I worked.

What are you up to today?" he said.

Oh, fishing the river."

He looked wistful. "Bad timing today for that."

"It's okay," I said. "We'll get to it anytime."

I handed him 50 pages of my novel he'd asked about and let him get back to lunch and visiting with family. Jimmy Buffett.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jungle Bob Durr RIP

Well I just got ripped for a book review I did in 2005 of my short time neighbor in Chase, Alaska in 1976, ex-professor Bob Durr of Syracuse NY. They weren't very friendly when I tried living "up the tracks" north of Talkeetna. People are animals who guard their territory. This is what the Durr's did.
I can't help but laugh at the fact that you're blogging about this. A whopping thirty years later and that one incident still bothers you. Goodness. While the fact that you've labeled the Durrs as “snobs” and the lake as a "strange place" irritates me to this bad point where if I ever saw you I might poke you in the eye, I am happy to fill you in on some details. Jon and Steve do small time music money making. Playing gigs (which by the way is not "panhandling", Talkeetna summers bring in a lot of tourists a gig at the Fairview pays at least $200 depending on who owns the place), selling CD's to tourists, that kind of stuff. Jon also hunts and sells a lot of skins. Bob has done well as an artist, and his paintings sell for good money across Alaska. And, as you know, he's written novels that have been published and that brought in a fair amount of revenue as well.
As for the past, Bob wasn't exactly the most responsible and Carol most likely handled what little money they had. So it doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t know where the money came from. Also, with hunting and gathering a lot of their food, and no electric bills, rent, or car payments the living expenses were not much. Yes they did have some money in the first cabin when it burnt down, you surely don’t think that they had ALL of their money in a book in the cabin? They had just enough to pack up their stuff and go to NY because his father was dying, I can’t really remember but I’m pretty sure it was his father. There, Carol got a job at a hospital, and their rent was free since Bob’s father owned an apartment that he let them stay in.
One of my favorite things that you wrote about Bob was your question about his life. “Does he intend to just hang out on a biologically dead lake until the end?” It makes me smile because that was in fact what he intended to do and did. Back Lake was everything to Bob, he lived and breathed it, and it meant more to him than just about anything or anyone. Although my grandpa did a lot of horrible things in his life, but the one thing he did right was Back Lake. So it doesn’t surprise me that he shooed you away from his paradise. And when I inherit the lake, I’m sure I’ll do the same.

PS, the outhouse holes are REALLY deep.

As I told this young lady, who is Durr's granddaughter, I call them as I see 'em. It's my recollection of my time there at Chase and a critique of Bob's memoir The Coldman Cometh. Durr passed away onFebruary 25. He did it his way, no question.

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