Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

James Dickey

Sarasota. Florida

Sometimes it snows in Sedona. If you are lucky enough to be there you might see little hairy black pigs called Javelinas making tracks in the snow.

Tucson is another lovely place in Arizona. They have an outstanding collection of American bombers, fighters, transports, cargo planes and spy planes.There is a world class observatory worth visiting and the Saguaro National Park. The Desert museum has a great collection of fauna and flora. If you get there at the right time you can see a rattlesnake swallow a mouse.

The WWII era produced American authors that left us with great literature. Aside from Hemingway chasing U-boats near Cuba with his yacht and dynamite bundles, there other greats, some well known, others more obscure.

You have James Jones ("The Thin Red Line") and Norman Mailer ("The Naked and the Dead"), both great authors and Pacific U.S. Marines. Vonnegut  (Slaughterhouse Nine") got his fair share of inspiration as a prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war.

I identify most with Joseph Heller ("Catch-22") and his brilliantly absurd description of war .We should all  strap on .45s, get naked and sit in a tree when required to navigate into places where people are trying to kill us. Yossarian was the navigator that I wanted to be.

The recent unpleasantness in Tuscon may taint the town in the way that Dallas and Oklahoma City became synonymous with other shocking and horrendous acts. In this case we seem to have a failure of gun control combined with ever decreasing federal and state mental health budgets. It might be that a certain number of disturbed individuals will always commit acts of this type. Perhaps we could restrict them to nineteen round clips of ammunition rather than the thirty round clips used in this latest insanity?

So...James Dickey...he was a WWII bomber pilot, a novelist and a poet.

You probably read "Deliverance" by Dickey or at least saw the movie with Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.

About ten years ago I picked up another big novel by Dickey in a used bookstore in Savannah. The Book was called Alnilam and was about a father who was going blind with diabetes and trying to find out how his son had died at a WWII pilot training base. The plot was strange beyond all reason and I enjoyed reading it very much. Alnilam was a favorite star of mine even before reading the book. It's the central star in the belt of Orion. About 1,470 light years away, it should go super nova within a million years or so.

You can imagine my surprise and delight to find Dickey's third and last novel in the stacks of the Sarasota County Library. He published it in 1993 just before his death. It's called "To the White Sea" and it's a story about a B-29 tail gunner who bails out over Tokyo. He evades capture for months by killing civilians for shoes and other trivialities but you know that eventually he will come to a bad end. This one makes "Deliverance" look like a fun weekend canoe trip.

1 comment:

  1. snow in sedona huh...who would have thought???????? sil