"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mammoths and more...pages of the summer

I like the kind of books you can skip around in and not necessarily read in order, front to back. Maybe that's why I like poetry books by authors I know. I can check the table of contents, or thumb through them, and find subjects that interest me most, as with Ben Myers' book, Lapse Americana.
Maybe it's because I have a short attention span, and am impatient, or have attention deficit disorder, though it hadn't been invented yet when I was growing up, so I was spared mind-numbing, creativity-killing drugs. Or maybe, I just like lots of different subjects.
But you can't go to Full Circle Bookstore, as I did to interview Myers (see previous post), and not stumble across a book or two to buy. 
Such it was when I discovered Stephen Harrigan's The Eye of the Mammoth. The title caught me, and then I thumbed through it, meeting a new author. Actually, he was born an Okie, but has spent most of his life in Texas, earning fame as a writer for Texas Monthly and as both a fiction and non-fiction author. He's really well known for his novel The Gates of the Alamo.
And oh, the selection of essays, most about Texas subjects, including mammoth kills sites, the death of Davy Crockett, the secret life of the beach, snapping turtles, hiking Big Bend. But there's more, some with Oklahoma connections like "Comanche Moon," about Quanah Parker and including information on Fort Sill. Then there was the one on the "ice man," the mummified stone age man found in the Alps recently, and the filming of Lonesome Dove. All of these and more in four sections, "Music in the Desert," "Highways and Jungle Paths," "The Shadow of History," and "Where is My Home?"
I've skipped around in it for several nights, and read all but one or two of them. It and Ben's poetry book made for a good July, the eighth and ninth books read this year.

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