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Jul. 31 2010 - 10:46 am | 100 views | 0 recommendations | 9 comments

Farewell, into the wild. . .

Kayaking on Lake Saranac

Image via Wikipedia

This weekend we finished cleaning up our new N...

Image via Wikipedia

I write my last post for True/Slant a bit worn out from a full day of kayaking yesterday. It was easy river kayaking, mainly, with just one madly technical section of Class 2 stuff, but a full day of paddling and some porting in the sun saps you a bit.

The sights and experiences were very nice: Osprey and kingfishers working the water. The boughs of huge sycamores whispering in the breeze. A shore nap of 15 minutes that felt like an hour full of dreams. A dash of adrenaline while being spun in the rapids.

Thanks for reading the Beaufinn blog. It was fun. If you would like to continue along, this blog will migrate to www.beaufinn.com/blog (or some iteration of that; Google the name) by mid-August. Web designers really slow down in the heat, don’t they?

What’s next for me? Working two contract writing jobs (corporate stuff), teaching at The College of New Jersey this fall, and staying on the ever-present quest, along with my agent, to sell one or all of the novels. Beyond that, I’d like to finally put some serious effort into the kind of mountain climbing/trekking I’d like to do. I might start in the Shawangunks, in the Catskills. I should, however, set some summiting goals for the next decade.

I have two requests of you, Beaufinn reader:

1. (Re)Read Deliverance: Yeah, yeah — macho white guys in canoes, etc. etc. Having studied with the man who write this magnificently original American narrative, I was always galled by the fact that in popular memory the story boiled down to Ned Beatty and some banjo playing (popular memory = didn’t read the novel and can’t remember much about the film).

This story is powerfully sublime; what lurks under the obvious physical action is moving and troubling, and stays in the mind for weeks after reading. Dickey wrote a very straight story in a time of postmodern literary experimentation, but the story is anything but easy. It is one of those novels you must read to understand a bit about America, particularly at a certain time (the early 1970s).

Also, read it for the wonderful owl scene, which occurs early in the action. This scene is not in the film version, but it is the strongest symbolic connector to Dickey’s poetry in the whole novel.

After that, if you can tackle the novel Dickey wrote after Deliverance, a tome called Alnilam, you’re ready for your PhD.

2. Once a week, disappear for half an hour: That’s a tough one for parents and people with demanding jobs. Maybe cut that to 15 minutes, but for that 15 minutes, belong to your own country — a one-person country located in a wholly unspecified place. Maybe you already do this, and can swing it for an hour. That’s good — now try for two hours.

Get free of the beeps, bings, pings, bongs, shouts, and the “Hey, where are you?” Leave the cell phone or PDA in the car or under a rock, give away your GPS unit, and go someplace that only you know, and only you know where you are.

Go off the grid, just for a short time. Clear your mind of the digital flotsam. You’ll be back “in network” soon enough.

You won’t need a map. Good luck.

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    Shamefully, I haven’t read “Deliverance” since high school, which is weird because I like the man’s poetry so much- “The Sheep-Child”, and “Deer Among Cattle” are among my favorite poems. I’ll take your recommendation under advisement, tho my summer reading list is already stacked up. (Ever read “Alnilam”? Me, neither, tho I’ve been curious for awhile now- there’s more words than time to read them.)

    As for your second recommendation, I do that pretty instinctively. I’m fortunate in that I live near the Milwaukee River- the Milwaukee River, in the last five or so miles before it arrives downtown, has cut a palisades, terrain that a real-estate developer can do nothing to or with. So there’s a lovely five mile strip of wilderness running through the northern half of the city, populated by whitetail deer, kingfishers, heron, gray and red foxes, etc, that have no idea that they’re in a major metropolitan area- and the city Forestry Department can’t get their trucks in, so they don’t cut standing dead trees, which mean a happy happy habitat for woodpeckers seldom seen in cities- I’ve actually seen Pileated Woodpeckers there; normally, around here they’re as rare as the Ivory-billed. Did I mention, Bluegills, Crappie, Walleye, Largemouth, Drum, Catfish? So, no problem with #2 there.

    As somebody who loves short stories, and enjoys serial fiction, I really appreciated “Young Leonard”, and “Beaufinn”. I’m almost emmbarassed by the low hit count you got on those. Clearly, you need more titles that include the words “Bigfoot”, “Lingerie”, and/or “Lady Gaga”.

    Congrats on the good run here. Catch ya round teh intrawebs, which we all know is a series of tubes.

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    It’s been great having you remind us that nature/wild things/silence/animals matter, and should matter to us more. Happy trails…and kayaks…and canoes…

  3. collapse expand

    Scott, I want to thank you for turning me on to a great American nature writer that I’ll always follow now, one with a sharp eye, a warm heart, a celver story, and a deft turn of the pen. Oh, and James Dickey is also pretty good.

  4. collapse expand

    I will take both pieces of advices as gospel and will greatly miss your blog for a couple of weeks. Always one of the highlights of my day. Glad to hear it will continue in another venue. True/Slant’s loss, but you will retain your faithful readers.

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    About Me

    I've worked as a ghostwriter, a magazine editor, and an acquisitions editor in publishing, and lived for quite a while in NYC. Now I live in the trees and am a freelance "content provider" for print and digital media and for broadcast programming. I also rep the work of angling artist Ernest Schwiebert. I published a short story collection, "The Midnight Fish," in 2001, and the satires, "The Vampire Survival Guide," (2008) and "The Vampire Seduction Handbook," co-written with Luc Richard Ballion" (2009). My novels are represented by Harold Ober Associates, NYC.

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    Followers: 65
    Contributor Since: April 2009
    Location:Bucks County, PA

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    Grizzly rear paw print found on Kvass Trail in...

    Spring ‘10: Going fishing, making stuff up, fooling my friends, trying to find an illustrator for a graphic-novel project. Other than those things, the usual: Working on a new long-form project while trying to sell the others.