Affiliated Networks


Badge

Loading…

Latest Activity

Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Salman Rushdie come to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
Sunday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Saturday
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 31
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

73 classic works about Appalachia going online

Key Appalachian studies publications now going onlinefrom press release, Jan. 27. 2016 Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  Pamela Mitchem, the library’s coordinator of digital scholarship and…See More
Jan 30
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

John Parris' home-grown prose

South of Sylva, back of yesterday: John Parris' inspiration             “For the life of me, I just can’t understand why folks stopped usin’ cradles,” John Parris’ 97-year-old maternal grandfather had told him 60 years ago.            The oil lamp, the buggy, and the spinning wheel—they all were replaced by things…See More
Jan 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

James Sturm expands scope of graphic novels

James Sturm blazes cartoon path to a new worldby Rob Neufeld             Why is it that when an author combines pictures with words, the medium is considered juvenile, like comics?  Words create literature; images, art.  Why, when you marry them, is it like pairing a milk cow with a mop?            Nothing against…See More
Jan 24
susannah eanes posted a blog post

The Writer as Pilgrim

Two articles leapt at my consciousness this week, both about writing. And suddenly, I know how to go forward from here. The first, The Price I Pay to Write, by Laura Bogart and published online in Dame Magazine, reflects on the difficulties of…See More
Jan 24
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Tired of thrillers with no soul?

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classicby Rob Neufeld             After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.”              For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the…See More
Jan 17
Susan True updated their profile
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Art of Grace by Sarah Kaufman

Dance critic applies grace to every moveby Rob Neufeld             It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W.…See More
Jan 9
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Jan 8
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

Fire and Ice Roses interview with author/gardening blogger Kathryn Hall

Fire and Ice Roses has been interviewing gardening bloggers and gardening experts and were kind enough to include this short interview recently which was quite fun and very much appreciated! http://fireandiceroses.com/ask-an-expert-kathryn-hall/See More
Jan 5
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

History in the making, January 2, 2016

History in the making: items of note, January 2, 2016It was reported in today’s print edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times that a new state law went into effect, requiring people who’ve filed for unemployment benefits to make at least 5 job contacts a week.  It had been 2.  How will that work?  Are there that many jobs for which a person is qualified?  Can you apply to the same job twice if it continues to be listed? Paul Bonesteel, noted Asheville filmmaker, revealed on Facebook that a…See More
Jan 2
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Local event of the day, Jan 1 2016

Tarantino, eminent domain, and emancipation Tarantino comes to townQuentin Tarantino’s New Year’s gore and gabfest, The Hateful Eight, is gutted by New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, who says that Tarantino toys with rather than explores history, using it “for boyish fantasies of revenge, as if enormous crimes could be undone, after the event, by lone and wanton acts of humiliation.” …See More
Jan 1
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

Railroad history in Western North Carolina: a close-up and bottom-line look

Railroads in WNC: the perils, the people, and the profitby Rob NeufeldWritten in conjunction with exhibit, "How The West Was Won," in Rural Heritage Museum, Mars Hill University PHOTO CAPTION: The entrance to the railroad show at the Rural Heritage Museum is commanded by a mock-up of Climax engine…See More
Dec 24, 2015

Stories and insights teem in Morgan’s new history

by Rob Neufeld

 

            Robert Morgan’s new book, “Lions of the West” is a compelling and insightful history that reads like the talk of a learned companion. 

It’s not the intimacy of his novels nor the music of his poetry—Henderson County farm products—that you get, but rather an assortment of styles to keep you going.

            In telling about the “heroes and villains of the westward expansion,” as his subtitle announces, Morgan roams far.   He follows ten westward men and details the key tensions and intentions in their lives.

 

Very different idealists

 

            In his chapter about John Chapman—aka “Johnny Appleseed”—Morgan first muses, “Wherever cultivated people went they took their orchards with them.”

            After conveying a little storehouse of knowledge about apple culture, Morgan then presents his protagonist, a kind of saint who can’t help but inspire poetic thinking.

            “He respected all livings things,” Morgan writes, “including mosquitoes and rattlesnakes, conversed with animals large and small, as well as with angels, created orchards for those who would follow him…”

            There is no such lyricism in the Thomas Jefferson passage in which Morgan outlines Jefferson’s frontier-winning business plan.  But then, after a few pages in the middle of that chapter, the narrative dives down to hold up Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 letter to Meriwether Lewis—a masterpiece.  Morgan adopts a different tone.

            “It has been said that the most important secret of good writing is rewriting,” he offers as he reveals that the Lewis letter had been at least the fifth draft of a vision Jefferson had articulated on other occasions. 

            “Another secret of good writing,” Morgan adds, “is the selection of the right subject.”  He’s referring to Jefferson’s lifelong passion for exploration and settlement, but he might also be talking about his own interest in Jefferson.

            I like it that Morgan identifies with his subjects, as I like Morgan’s interaction with school curricula—Put the Jefferson-Lewis letter in your textbook! 

 

Mind of a farmer

 

            In his chapter on Andrew Jackson, Morgan makes another personal identification.

            “It is probably impossible for us in the twenty-first century,” he begins, “to understand what land meant to poor white people in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”

            For instance, to a released indentured servant, the west meant salvation, Morgan explains.  Then, he shifts into such a person’s mind.

            “There seemed to be no end to the wild lands—if only Indians could be cleared away—and no limits to hope,” Morgan imagines his character thinking.  “All you needed were an ax, a rifle, and a wife, and maybe a horse or ox.”

            We are reminded of Morgan’s fictional character, Tom Powell, a land-obsessed, poor farmer in “The Truest Pleasure.”

            Morgan’s non-fiction reflection continues along another enlightening path.

            “But even if you had no wife,” he continues, “one could be found among the Indians.  In fact, for settling down at the edge of the wilderness, an Indian wife might be the best of all.”  She would be a good worker; plus, “married to an Indian woman, you were halfway a member of the nation yourself.”

            From the mind of the homesteader, Morgan moves to a survey of Creek society and then to the drumbeats of war, as the Upper Creeks enlist in Tecumseh’s apocalyptic campaign against whites.  On Aug. 30, 1813, an Upper Creek force brutally massacred about 500 settlers, soldiers, and slaves at Fort Mims, north of Mobile.

            The ensuing Creek War was the moment of destiny for Andrew Jackson, commander of the Tennessee militia.  Thus, after 11 fascinating pages, Morgan backs up to March 13, 1767, the date of Jackson’s birth, and fills you in on his character.

 

Morgan’s American contribution

 

            Every one of Morgan’s profiles—Jefferson, Jackson, Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson. Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams—share the distinction of emblematic Americans.

            A part of Morgan’s art in presenting these figures is creating human portraits within the pages that couch their historic actions.

            For James K. Polk, 11th president, Morgan juxtaposes a few sources to create a complex take.  Polk, a Scots-Irishman whose parents had followed the path of many Scots-Irish families in this region, but had stopped in the Charlotte area, apparently lacked a sense of humor. 

            Gideon Welles, a fellow politician, said that Polk “possessed a trait of sly cunning which he thought shrewdness, but which was really disingenuousness and duplicity.”

            Morgan notes that Polk had gone into his presidency with the promise that he’d serve just four years and accomplish four major things, all of which he did.  Acquiring California was one of them.

            Kit Carson was a scrawny kid in a large family that followed Daniel Boone on his traces.  As a child in Missouri, Carson got to know Fox and Sac Indians as individuals.  He had a thirst for languages as well as travel.

            His fierceness was legendary.

            “In the summer of 1835,” Morgan narrates, “when he was twenty-five years old, Carson attended the annual meeting of trappers and traders on the Green River in southwestern Wyoming.”  It was called The Rendezvous.

            One of the French Canadians in attendance hated that the belle of the Rendezvous, an Arapaho girl named Singing Grass, had chosen Carson over him, and sought Carson out.  Carson forced a duel on mounted horse with guns, survived a head graze, and shot off his opponent’s thumb.  He married the girl.

            In “Lions of the West,” Morgan entertains with adventures and details, both high-minded and handy.   His largest achievement is something of special note here. 

            In his fiction, poetry, and history, Morgan represents a Scots-Irish/British tradition, and fuses, for all of America, romantic and pragmatic traditions. 

 

AUTHOR EVENTS

Robert Morgan presents his new book of history, “Lions of the West,” and his new book of poems, “Terroire,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29 (call 254-6734); and at Fountainhead Bookstore, 408 North Main St., Hendersonville, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29 (the event is ticketed; call 697-1870).

Views: 278

Reply to This

© 2016   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service