“Sometimes a thing in front of you is so big you don’t know whether to comprehend it by first getting a dim sense of the whole and then fitting in the pieces or by adding up the pieces until something calls out what it is.”
p. 53, ARRTI
Why I read this, why now especially, could be blamed on the What’s in a Name 5 category of TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURE which I think the title infers. And thus, this post satisfies my participation in that Challenge – wow, completed in the first 6 months rather than in December! Woot. But the root or spark that explains why I read this book is the fanlove of Citizen Reader for this author. Sure, I had heard of the movie but never saw it. I will, though.
I had recommended this to book club but it was soundly defeated in a vote. (Please remind me next time I have ‘selection’ that I should really propose something commercially popular?! I have to make up for the beating poor Cranford received.)
I am going to send it to Nancy the BookFool because I am pretty sure she will love it like I did and will need a palate cleanser after teen vampire romance stuff and flower porn. She and I both enjoyed Fire Season and this has similar themes which is NOT surprising because Fire Season references Norman Maclean.
Back to ARRTI… This collection consists of a Foreward by Annie Proulx, and Acknowledgement bit by the author and placed after the Foreward, the title story which I have and will continue to reference as “ARRTI”, the shortest story called “Logging and Pimping and “Your Pal, Jim””, then the third and last story called “USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky”.
I did not read this in order. I read the “Logging and Pimping…” story first (it was the shortest) and then actually came back to the Foreward which is unlike me. I liked the Cook story best which actually surprised me.
I am curious and have no clue why exactly this is fiction and not memoir (I believe I will save that research for the Norman Maclean Reader) but I certainly imagined in my head that all this truly happened to the author.
“Logging and Pimping” is… a tale to be told aloud, but vivid and tight, packed with wry observation of human behavior the difficult of judging character, the memorable study of a backwoods tinhorn and sharp look at a western logging camp before the invention of the chainsaw.”
p.xiii, Foreward by Annie Proulx
The cook story amazed me because of the change in voice from ARRTI. It is a coming of age story where our boy is 17 and working hard on a Forest Service crew and starts to realize maybe then and certainly at the time of the telling, that he IS growing up and taking on maturity. Contrasted with ARRTI when he is in his thirties and talking about the relationship with his younger, wilder brother.
“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched. On the river the heat mirages danced with each other and then they danced through each other and then they joined hands and danced around each other. Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.”
Don’t let it seem like nothing happens in these stories. There most definitely is action -lots happens! – though maybe not the traditional arc of plot and conclusion. But he does intersperse personal philosophy tidbits that were quite beautiful. Reflections on life, relationships, growing up, and poetry.
“Somewhere along here I first became conscious of the feeling I talked about earlier – the feeling that comes when you first notice your life turning into a story.”
p. 144, tRtCaaHitS
“It doesn’t take much in the way of body and mind to be a lookout. It’s mostly soul. It is surprising how much our souls are alike, at least in the presence of mountains. For all of us, mountains turn into images after a short time and the images turn true.”