Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hitting Rather Close to Home . . .

Shan's novel isn't autobiographical, but there are some parts that strike very close to home, as when the main character's landlord proves to know rather a lot about his tenant's humble origins:
"Fulton County, Arkansas. Located in the Midsouth in what's known as the Ozark foothills. County seat is Salem, a thriving metropolis of some 1,500 souls. Industry is limited to subsistence level farming, small businesses, health care, and a regional utility. The only person approaching celebrity status from your neck of the woods is Tess Harper, a character actress best known for her co-starring role opposite Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies. Your other claim to fame is Mammoth Springs. It was once advertised as the world's largest spring, though that isn't even close to the truth. Per capita income in the county is among the lowest in the state, in a state which is among the poorest nationwide. How am I doing so far?" (Shannon Hodges, City of Shadows, page 395)
That's a very accurate description of our boyhood home, so far as the poverty is concerned -- and having slept on an old iron bed above a dirt floor in a basement for the first ten years of my life, I can claim to have literally been 'dirt' poor -- but a couple of celebrities got left out, the country music songwriter and performer David Lynn Jones and the former Dodgers pitcher Preacher Roe, though Roe gets his paragraph a few pages later, when the tenant -- who's also the protagonist -- informs his landlord of another local celebrity:
"Preacher Roe. He was also from Fulton County. Star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's. Five time all star and led the national league in strikeouts for a couple of seasons." (Shannon Hodges, City of Shadows, page 397)
Hmmm . . . shouldn't "National League" be capitalized? Surely, the protagonist doesn't intend to disparage the National League, and I guess one can't talk in capital letters anyway, so I'll have to take this question up with Shan. But back to Roe. He's said to have had a good spitball, so some purists might put an asterisk beside his records, I suppose, but his famous spitball makes him even more of a character, and thus even more of a celebrity. Anyway, Roe is a homeboy. Our Fulton County homeboy. But not everything that hits close to home in the novel has to do with Fulton County. There's also this, a remark by a friend of the protagonist, even less autobiographical for Shan, but striking still closer to home for me:
"You know, I wrote a short op-ed piece for the Chronicle [of Higher Education] a couple of years back. It was on Gypsy scholars . . . you know, like me, without a tenure-track spot. I was pretty critical about humanities programs that pump out graduates with no chance of getting hired and elderly faculty who refuse to retire . . ." (Shannon Hodges, City of Shadows, pages 289-290)
Gypsy scholars! I do believe my younger, but more successful academic brother was thinking of me! Reckon I was one of them there 'gradual' students "with no chance of getting hired." I ought to have read Shan's novel 32 years ago! But time travel hadn't been invented yet back then . . . not that the years should matter for time travelers like me.

After all, I'm constantly traveling into the future, as time goes by, and repeatedly visiting the past, in my memories . . .

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At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No chance of being hired"?


All you got to do is pick up and move a dozen timezones away.


At 7:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

But still not tenured . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting a paycheck...?

So far recurring...?

Still receiving queries as to whether you'll be available for what I'd call further [weird] subjects perfessoring...?

Still living adventurously, as in literally, under the guns?

Far enough away Cran is not a threat to take your staff lounge's coffee machine dimes?

Got to look at all this stuff "Big Picture" Professor Hodges. You could well be, still in Fulton County Arkansas wondering why you hadn't rather attended Cotter Arkansas' "Learn To Tie Fly-Fishing Lures" Academy.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good point. I do need to look at the Big Photograph. Maybe get on Google Images and see what amazing visuals the Hubble is sending down these days! Think about our infinitesimal place in this boundlessly large universe . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just hope when I look in my email, I'm not gonna find you too giving me the dickens over what I took to be a geological feature turned out to be, ... "Art" I reckon.

Crap! Pretty pictures do not Geology make.


At 11:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If the Creationists are right, it's all 'art' anyway . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the novel so highly pricey? Pretty unusual for a paperback.

Apropos, we have resumed our Sunday studies, sir. It's always good to hear your balanced opinions and constructive comments.


At 4:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I didn't pay for mine, so I have no idea what it costs, nor why (but I probably won't inquire about that sensitive issue).

I'll try to show up next Sunday . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't mean to be nosy. The question was of technical rather than personal nature.


At 6:54 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Don't worry about offense. There was none. I'm just not sure how to ask my brother that question.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point blank :) But of course there's no need if you lack any interest in it.

P.S. Is my eyesight deteriorating or those characters down below for verification are getting more and more blur and complicated?


At 9:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was apparently too blunt as an older brother when we were kids, so I try not to get into potentially sensitive territory.

As for your second question: "Both."

Or perhaps you're just an android dreaming of electric sheep . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Android dreaming of electric sheep? OK, and how'd be in English? :)


At 9:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That was the title of the book behind Blade Runner.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Shannon Hodges said...


You are right that I missed David Lynn Jones. My apologies to David who is a really good musician and song writer.


At 7:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't think David Lynn minds . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


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