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Monday, 30 April 2012

In England we like to say that kind words 'butter no parsnips'.  (You may have to ponder that for a moment. I did, first time I heard it.) Well, that may be so, but let me tell you they sure can make a guy's spirits soar.

I've spent the last few hours inching towards my daily thousand-word target as I tackle a first draft of Chapter 1, Mike Pannett in the Met., based on our interviews over the past few weeks. I think I have reached... hang on, let me check: 897 words. So, should be done by the time I go down and get our dinner on.

However.... I have just found a new review on the website (the US as opposed to the UK version, that is) of The Red House On The Niobrara. I won't try to synopsise it; I''m just going to paste the entire thing here, because I am thrilled with it.

When you say the word "Nebraska" you can actually make brainwaves go flat, as if you were saying "Algebra," or "Calvin Coolidge," but the part of Nebraska that Alan Wilkinson writes about, these mystical Sandhills which sit upon that marvelous aquifer called the Ogallala, has little in common with that fixed idea that most have of Nebraska as a flat expanse of interminable boredom ribboned by I-80 and sparsely populated with pigs, rednecks, and blue-eyed howdies juggling their nuts among the deep rows of sweet corn. Trust Alan here. He didn't stay at the Holiday Inn and drive his rental down every week to snap photos and draw sketches. He lived and worked here pioneer-style among the people, endured blizzards and hailstorms and locusts. It's refreshing to get a European perspective on this corner of America so generally ignored. Alan came here originally to explore the world of Mari Sandoz, the most famous writer of this area, and as with many, the big skies and solitude and indistinguishable vastness of the prairie, the hard snows and hell-hot summers, put him off at first. Eventually those big skies and vast expanses (along with the charm of wildlife, the distinct flora, and the goodness of the people), as they did with me, got in his blood. Alan has a fine eye and much to say. I highly recommend this book and I'm pleased to see him free.

Kind words? Parsnips? Butter? They simply make me feel a whole lot better.


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