Bob Linsenman’s novel, SNOWBLOOD’S JOURNAL will be published in September. It’s an unforgettable story of soldiers and their dogs in Vietnam. Get it. Learn from it. Enjoy. Over
Earlier this month saw my friend, fraternity brother and former USAF copilot Mike Vairo (Lt.Col, USAF, Ret, and native of St. Ignace) and I got an email note from our aircraft commander, Tom Davey (Lt. Col, USAF, Ret). We called him Boss Davey and Zorro.
“Hi Joe. Glad to hear you and Mike got together. Its great to get together and rehash old remember-when’s. Miss you guys. If I could do anything in the world I would like to crew up with the Goose, Hump, and Nick and fly either a month of F-105 fighter support, or a month of aero delivery between Honolulu and Saigon. Take care Hump. Say hello to your lovely wife. As Always, Davey.
Those who’ve never served in the military are unlikely to forge these kinds of bonds. Nick Carter, our boom operator passed away earlier this year and he’s missed. Just thought I’d share. I’ve had a lucky life with lots of interesting people and experiences. What more can one ask of a once-through ride? Boss, Goose, Hump and Nick: we were prepared to die for each other every day we went out to fly. How much more can you ask of, or give to other human beings?
DAY 66 – Monday, July 22, 2013, DEER PARK – Not halfway through our stay yet, which is great. My pal Bonnie Jo Campbell is going to be up here on a book tour with a whole heap of UP writers, including Sue Harrison and Ellen Airgood. Don’t miss them. They are all nice, smart and personable folks, and great crafters with words.
Last week we got hit with 4.1 inches of rain in a 24-hour period and 75- 100 mph winds, resulting in a lot of downed trees (mostly maples) and $7,650 in damages to Jambe Longe’s Malibu. A new ride may be forthcoming.
She takes the dog on his work walk every day, which means he wears his red pack and thinks this is his job. Later in the day (fly populations permitting) we go to the Lake Superior beach and let him run free while we look for agates. Those nights the flies are too thick, we head into the blueberry fields and jackpines to collect early berries, which are starting to flow. Once in a while we socialize. Last night we had dinner at the Pinestump Eatery with Ruth DeSilvestro and Don Madorski. Pizzas all around at Da Stump.
Day are spent working, her on jewelry, me on manuscript or an occasional poem and when I am not writing, I am reading, at a pace of about a book a day. I read fiction much faster than nonfiction, in which I often take notes, which I later transfer in pieces to various notebooks for future reference and use. My memory isn’t what it used to be, except for fish and how to get to rivers and their fishing spots.
This week I’ll spend a day on patrol with a CO and on Sunday head for Bullshido fishing camp for a week. Jambe Longue’s sis will drive up to stay here while I’m gone. When I get back well be off for a couple of days of rock-hunting in Copper Harbor, and then three days of historical research out of Ontonagon (Rockland, Greenland, Mass City, Bergland, White Pine, Silver City, etc.). Today I hit 46,000 words in MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN, so I am about half way. My target for a novel is usually 100,000 words, but my publisher is seldom finicky, so if the story takes 110, 000 so be it.
I get a lot of ideas from various rooting in history and just this week learned from the Newberry News that the equiv of our DNR had in 1913 asked deputy game wardens all around the state to count animals, which gave me an unexpected and perfect hook for the new Lute Bapcat story I’m pounding out. See, when you’re writing a novel, or at least when I’m writing, I rarely have a plot in mind. I start with characters, put them in a time and place and let them show me a story, meaning the story takes on its own life in my head. Probably true with all serious writers, and always a marvel to witness because your characters and the events in a story can surprise you.
My goal is to be invisible in the stories and to let the reader live them with the characters. Like most authors, I sometimes fall short of my goal of staying out of view, but I am always striving for total invisibility.
How authors turn this trick is just part of what makes novels so fascinating, at least to me. As the late Bernard DeVoto put it, “The novelist must forfeit something even more important than actors and mimicry of events: immediacy. In all drama, the event occurs in present time with the spectator on the scene. But the novel is imprisoned in past time. The event has already happened when the reader hears about it.”
It’s the writers craft that allows readers to buy into a story, understanding that most readers are most forgiving in the early going, but more critical and analytical as time moves on. Devoto again: The medium of the novel… “There are no limitations whatever on space; the novelist may and usually does use hundreds of different scenes and settings. Hwe may transport us anywhere with a word,or two, and may use a half-dozen locales ina chapter, a page, or even a paragraph: This is a tremendously important freedom, but his freedom from time-limitations is even more important…and he can achieve an effect of time that no other medium can even suggest: he can work simultaneously , in the same context, with two or several different periods of time and the reader will be present in them all.”
Devoto adds, “Finally, the novel does directly what the drama can do only indirectly and only in small part: it works within the mind of a character as naturally as outside it. More than that, it works with the minds of as many characters as the novelist may choose to enter; In all forms of drama thought an feeling are objectified by behavior and, in order to be experienced, must be inferred. The theater’s devices for escaping this limitation are literal and clumsy; they can succeed only to a slight degree, rarely, and with a rigorously limited effect. But the mind and the emotions are wholly open to a novelist, who at pleasure can give us either the effect of emotion, or emotion itself as it is experienced. Fiction hold the interior world in fee simple.”
FYI, fee simple is a legal term, meaning, “The greatest possible estate in land, wherein the owner has the right to use it, exclusively possess it, commit waste upon it, dispose of it by deed or will, and take its fruits. A fee simple represents absolute ownership of land, and therefore the owner may do whatever he or she chooses with the land. If an owner of a fee simple dies intestate, the land will descend to the heirs.” Great use of the term in relating it to a novelist’s freedom.
Why novels? In part because as Devoto puts it, “They increase the circumference of our experience. They telescope lifetimes into reading times and so open more lives to us than the span of our days.
“The novelist,” Devoto tells us,” is participating in a magical operation. He has entered a world governed by its own laws under the strictest construction. He has joined hands with its inhabitants and is walking deathward with them as if friends.”
Let me conclude with more Devoto: “The period of thinking the novel into being is an effort to discover the true emotions, the true motives, and the behavior and action and change that will occur from them – of search, tentative experiment, error, criticism, rejection, renewed search, to the end that imaginary people may feel and act truly.”
We live up here in what writer Mike Jan once called, “the Buddhist ideal of living…that is, in the now, freed from regrets about the past or anxieties for the future.” Every day is its own discrete lifetime and we try to life each of them fully.
Remember what’s thought correct changes over time. 1600s, the second singular took a singular conjunction. “You Is.”
If language wasn’t alive and changing, David Wallace reminds us pointedly, “We’d all be talking like Chaucer.”
As a salute to another century, I hope you is having a fine day. Ave a noyce wan, mites.
KILLING A COLD ONE will be out in September, but reviews will trickle in between then and now. Here’s the first , and it’s a good one from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula provides the rugged setting for Heywood’s series featuring conservation officer Grady Service of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and its bewilderingly diverse population of Native Americans, long-established families, several waves of immigrants, and enough oddball characters for a freak show. Service’s ninth case (after 2011’s Force of Blood) may be his strangest and most dangerous yet. Murder doesn’t fall in Service’s purview, but Governor Lori Timms orders him to take charge of investigating a gruesome series of killings leading to rumors of, as Service puts it, “a dogman, Sasquatch, skinwalker, vampire, werewolf, windigo, zombie, whatever.” Service assembles his own team, including ancient scofflaw Limpy Allerdyce and former Detroit detectives Luticious Treebone and Glenn Noonan to help with the hunt. Heywood knows his geography, history, flora, fauna, and mythology as well as he does the region’s colorful, sometimes deadly inhabitants, and guides readers on an exotic and challenging journey. Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (Sept.)
Here I am slogging along on a Saturday morning with MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN, now in the 30-40 K word range (30-40 percent done) and I needed a break from typing handwritten chicken-scratch heiroglyphs to computer and happened to check my email and got this note from a fan in Indiana. Sort of renewed my energy. My two favorite stories in Hard Ground and she keyed into both of them. Writing ultimately is a one to one proposition and sometimes a piece works, but you get no real feedback and never know. This one worked. Sweet to be a writer when you can reach out and positively touch people. “Good, honest people.” She got that right on as it refers to conservation officers in our great state.
I just finished reading Hard Ground. You continue to amaze me with stories. Each story gets better and such a variety of characters. I could not stop laughing at Airzilla led by Buck Rogers. I am old enough to remember seeing the black and white films at the theatre along with Tarzan. The good old days. Dancing for the Dead was saved for lost and I can understand why. You have to stop and let the silence cover you after reading about Shaky Jolstaad and his friend Army Kelley.
I don’t know how real the people were but you had them read. Thank you again for giving us a look at a world of good honest people.
Back with photos and stuff later when I take a good break from writing.
We don’t know the boy, but he is here in the area to visit his grandparents over the fourth. He sort of tails behind other kids, likes to poke in the shallow water. Alone. Maybe nine, we don’t know. Yesterday he went out onto our dock and for two hours caught several fish and with each catch he pumped his arm and fist, and howled with pure delight.
When he looked at us, we raised our fists and arms in shared triumph, and yelled with him.
No idea of the technical name for his disorder, or problem, but he can’t really talk like the rest of us, so his scream is his primary means of communicating; yesterday that sound told all we needed to know. Success all on his own, joyous, happy.
Two hours and he got hung on the boat launch twice and worked it loose, climbing like a monkey. And he used pliers to remove lure hooks from his fish.
Talk about focus? He casts left-handed, varies his retrieve, and he really whips the rod, using the rod speed to generate distance.
Sometimes the most beautiful things we see and hear defy our so-called definitions of normal.
Pure joy. Something for all of us to aim for, and it doesn’t take much, but you have to recognize it when you see it. And it helps to be looking for it.
Scream away, kid.
DAY 46, July 4, 2013, DEER PARK — Ah the national booze and bang fest day is here, though fireworks have been going off now for the past two weeks and sporadically before that. And of course, the gunners join in. One guy across the lake rips off two clips a day, every day, without fail. The 4th here is not much fun, but this is true almost everywhere. Increasingly few Americans are veterans, or even know veterans, and few know the cost of what the fourth symbolizes. All they know is keep the beer sleeve full and fire off shit. Sad.
We are of course maintaining our daily animal count, which we do every year. These counts are random, meaning we have no planned route or time for making observations, but simply write down at the end of the day what we have seen and heard. The counts do not count sightings by others we know, like the gray wolf seen over on 7 Mile Fire Road last week. The odd count here is for bald eagles (no goldens yet), and that is at 97 (vs 145 through DAY 46 last year). Can’t offer any explanations or theories on the changes other than chance, but nevertheless we find them mildly interesting and some future day, long from now, someone may look back sadly and say “Look at the stuff they saw back then, and now there’s nothing.” Or, “Wow, they didn’t have much to look at — not like we do.” Deer are up to 221 (102), a bit surprising given the tough winter they just came through. Pileateds are at 118 (129), Sandhill cranes 170 (180), but turtles are up to 18 from 3, loons up to 60 from 39, and Great Blue Herons down from 45 last year to 6 this season. Like I said no explanation. Just the numbers, boss.
Life goes on, the writing goes well on MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN, and the fishing has been nothing to talk about, mainly because we have done so little. I’ll close with three photographs from my friend and fellow author Henry Kisor, who has a cabin in Ontonagon County. Henry’s newest porcupine connty novel will be out this fall. Don’t miss it.