Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fremontodendron californicum over Artfully Distressed Bench

High Tide at High Noon

Brought ketchup in a plastic baggie & finished this off

Something familiar and even familial about these

One of the Oklahoma quilts and Proofs of MOBY-DICK pictures.

I wanted the picture to show.

Poverty and Privilege--1940s quilts and proofs of MOBY-DICK

I am working with proofs of a very great book on an old oak swivel chair at an 8 foot long fold-down leaf on piano hinges. To get my feet at the right height I am using two quilts my mother sewed together in the 1940s from feed sacks, old pants, and flour sacks. The quilts were not so ragged in early 1957, when I first read MOBY-DICK in 11 afternoons while lying on a cot to let the pneumo-peritoneum settle down (air pumped in the belly to help let tubercular lesions crust over).  Now, great privilege to be proofing this book.

Mark Lee Gardner's SHOT ALL TO HELL!


Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape (Hardcover)
One of my great great great grandfathers was gunned down by bushwackers in the middle of the White River in Arkansas, so I have an intense interest in Arkansas-Missouri border ruffians. I have bought accounts such as Daniel E. Sutherland's GUERRILLAS, UNIONISTS, AND VIOLENCE ON THE CONFEDERATE HOME FRONT; William Monks's A HISTORY OF SOUTHERN MISSOURI AND NORTHERN ARKANSAS, edited by Bradbury and Wehmer; THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SAMUEL S. HILDEBRAND: THE RENOWNED MISSOURI BUSHWACKER, edited by Kirby Ross; and CIVIL WAR IN THE OZARKS, by Phillip W. Steele and Steve Cottrell. Buyers have to beware because publishers repackage old material by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and S. C. Turnbo with new titles to sell to the innocent. Stories get told and retold until there is nothing new to tell, you would think. But SHOT ALL TO HELL is a great job of telling the supposedly familiar story in an unfamiliar way by drawing on thousands of documents (some of them for the first time), about the Rocky Cut robbery and then the Northfield Raid and the pursuit of the outlaws and the aftermath. Gardner promises upfront: any words in quotation marks were really spoken, according to a contemporary or subsequent account. This announcement let me surrender myself to the comical, ludicrous, sad, grotesque, brutal, and pitiable narrative of one damned thing after another. Who would have thought that a recurrent theme would be the great American one of techniques of self-publicity? The endnotes were a special reward, for they are everything a scholar could want in specificity and (when evidence is incomplete or contradictory) in rational speculation. Congratulations to Mark Lee Gardner on SHOT ALL TO HELL! It's a marvelous lesson in how to work from bits of thousands of documents in fashioning a fast, enthralling story even while saving some of the best satisfaction for the endnotes, where the reader gets to look back and re-imagine parts of episodes under the author's guidance. Seven minutes the robbery took? Seven minutes!

P.S. I posted what follows to a negative comment about Gardner's endnotes but I am moving it up to here, to make it more visible:
Folks, don't be put off by reviewers who complain about the endnotes. Not to get too high-flown, what they do is like what the depositions do in BENITO CERENO. They give you the chance to reflect on all the appalling action while Gardner is guiding you through the archival evidence he working from. You get the great pleasure of revisiting old pleasures with fresh insight. I think I spent as much time in them as with the narrative, and derived as much pleasure, though a different sort of pleasure, more of intellectual satisfaction and less of visceral response to exciting narrative. For some, there will be high satisfaction in the endnotes. Sure, it's a matter of taste (do you want just the story or do you want to look behind the story?). You'll see, and judge for yourselves.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Proofs of 3rd Norton Critical Edition of MOBY-DICK are coming. Now I turn into the Little Red Hen

unless I hear from qualified volunteers who want to read aloud against 1851 calling out all punctuation marks and spelling anything that looks difficult.

I have a day to finish a piece for JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION on the Battle at McIntire's Farm.

Never boring.

3 attempts to get the blue in the rosemary to show and 1 picture of Morro Rock

Barlow and Lodato and the New Yorker and something called Podcast

What a very strange time to have lived into after growing up with no telephone in any house I went into.

The New Yorker of 27 March (which has not arrived here yet) has a story about a lad named Evan who has things in his backpack no one should have to carry. One is the 1000 page, more or less, "Herman Melville, Volume I." This was fun for a few hours and will be funny when the New Yorker comes, and I got to check with Vittorio who had just arrived in Seattle for a book event and agreed that it was a hoot. Then my daughter drove home after her turn with the ailing John Perry Barlow during which he and I had talked on the phone about Gene Autry and Willie Nelson and American Morse and tying messages on the Y stick so you did not tear off the brakeman's arm and the Internet. She turned on something called Podcast and Lodato came on reading "Herman Melville, Volume I." She was startled, but I had just told her about it, and she kept control of the Saab that used to life in Morro Bay.

At least I got to tell John Perry Barlow about how the Internet had changed life for me during the last 15 years, after "Herman Melville, Volume II." He had no idea, of course, about the Internet.

You know what Podcast is, of course?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Talking to John Perry Barlow about Gene Autry brought up the question of how you talked to trains.

Well, in the 50s we had to wait till a train approached to hand it up a message as it rolled by--or else in an emergency flag it down.
I looked now and saw someone asking online about the Y stick and people describing how messages were put into it.
Not one person mentioned that you had to hold it facing the right direction or you could take a brakeman's arm off.
No, we did not have radio communication with trains.

Strange Day--21 year old book incorporated in NEW YORKER and now a long chat with John Perry Barlow

about Gene Autry, Willie Nelson, and F. D. Reeve, and the Internet.

Invited him to come down and help me proofread the new Norton MOBY-DICK against the 1851 American edition.

What a man!

Who is bored?

Calm before Gale Force Winds from South

The author of "HERMAN MELVILLE, VOLUME 1" is amused.

This is 27 March--an issue that has not arrived here on the Pacific yet.

“Herman Melville, Volume I”
Fiction: “Good teeth, she’s learned, are like a passport: they helped you cross borders.”

A few excerpts:

"Evan’s pack is way too heavy. What feels like bricks, she knows, are books. One of them, a hardcover, is biting into her shoulder.

Are you going to read them? she’d asked him. He said yes, he’d definitely read them—but later, when they were settled, when it was warmer. Maybe in April, he said.

There’s a diet book, a book about car repair, a biography of the guy who wrote “Moby-Dick.” The biography is nearly a thousand pages long, even though it’s only Volume I—just the first thirty years of Melville’s life. She assumes it’s pre-“Moby-Dick,” because who writes something like “Moby-Dick” before they’re thirty. Evan was already twenty-three, and she’s used up only a few years less. It was unlikely that either of them would accomplish much, at this rate. She’s never even read “Moby-Dick,” though of course she knows it’s about a whale. Man against nature. She recalls the phrase from school."

"The girl isn’t sure what to say. She thinks to tell the truth, say that she’s stolen a roll of toilet paper. Instead, she asks the woman if she’s ever read “Moby-Dick.”

“Oh God, yes,” the woman says. “Dreadful book.”


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thoughts after twice having online (webzine) pieces on the American Revolution cited in new books.

Thoughts after twice having online (webzine) pieces on the American Revolution cited in new printed and bound books.

I was a railroad telegrapher through the 1950s but that turned into a dead end job when American Morse was no longer good enough for communication.

Retooling myself, I got a job as a university professor and became a textual scholar until Fredson Bowers blackballed me from the Center for Scholarly Editions and lied about doing so. A major piece of work on Stephen Crane went unpublished for 2 decades and when it came out, in another continent, it could not do the good it might have done.

Again picking myself up, I became a Melville biographer, but Richard Brodhead and Andrew Delbanco said (falsely) that I had made up POEMS (1860); Delbanco said because I had invented THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS I could not be trusted anywhere in either volume. Critics following them carry on their mission.

Beaten down, finally, I became a historian of the American Revolution.

Almost in some moods I feel as if the telegrapher was my great grandfather, the textual scholar my grandfather, the biographer my father, and the Revolutionary historian what is left of me.

From Christian McBurney's 2016 book, ABDUCTIONS IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

I love it when real printed and bound books quote a webzine such as the JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION!--AND McBURNEY QUOTES OR PARAPHRASES MORE THAN A PAGE.

MORRO MESA--Army Corps of Engineers at Work Overnight?

Rumors say that the ever-enlightened and munificent Army Corps of Engineers tore away a big hunk of Morro Rock during the War until their Diamond Drills were pulled off for duty in Italy. They used the debris for an officers' hot bunk house in Avila, one rumor says.  Anyhow, it looks as if the Corps came to Morro Bay last night and worked very hard and left us with MORRO MESA.