Something Rising Discussion: Did You Ever Have A Family?



First of all, that beautiful line about family is taken from Alan Shapiro, one of our best and most humane poets, and I am grateful to him for giving me permission to use it as the epigraph to the novel. 

Secondly, you must all rush out to your independent bookshop (if you’re lucky enough to have one, or order a copy from THE REGULATOR BOOKSHOP) and get Gregory Maguire’s new novel, the third in his WICKED trilogy.  It just came out . . . two days ago, I think.  If you haven’t read the first two, WICKED and SON OF A WITCH, get those, too, write them off on your taxes or send me the bill, and buy the third one IMMEDIATELY.  It’s called A LION AMONG MEN, and I cannot stress enough how much this man is a national treasure.

You know the rest of the drill:  book club talk, I’ll answer questions, you will take off on tangents about mashed potatoes, someone will accuse me of abject cruelty, Delonda and Melinda will step in and be funnier than I have been on my finest day, George will rule, Amanda will offer her genius close-readings, JohnM will say just the right thing to torture me because he no longer lives here, Kate will shine like the sun, and the rest of you will surprise me and make me teary with your astonishing insights and everlasting kindness.

Go, Buckaroos.

Published in: on October 23, 2008 at 11:43 am  Comments (259)  


  1. I just wanted to be first. haha

  2. In the spirit of Linda 6th month of sobriety I;m posting the best description of a drunk I’ve ever come across.

    “It was possible he was drunk; with Jimmy it was hard to tell. He gave nothing away in his gait, the whites of his eyes, his speech. He simply grew more malignant around the edges, and then he was gone.” 145

  3. You get the prize!

    What is the prize again? Let me see what I’ve got here. Some Tostito’s, a tower of Lego’s, and a Vitamin Water. YOU NAME IT, WINNER.

  4. Dee, I think we’ve all known that man. I sure as hell did.

  5. Haven, do they have rednecks in Indiana? The only time I’ve spent there was a week in a hotel in Indianapolis, which I don’t think counts. I’m asking because I grew up in Tennessee, and the Indiana accent you write in “Something Rising” sounds an awful lot like the Tennessee accent I was unlucky enough to hear all my life.

    Also, and this has nothing to do with the book, are there real redneck churches in Indiana? And are they as scary as the ones in Tennessee?

  6. Spooky how ParticlesOfSpirit would pull that one out at this point in my day. Haven didn’t model Jimmy after my father, who was coincidentally called Jimmy by his brothers and sister, but that quote could have fit him to a “T”. And I just woke up from a nap thinking of dad. So do the dead speak to us? Or am I just looking at tea leaves seeing what I want to see.

    For a little back story, my dad was an alcoholic who died in a horrific car accident when I was twelve.

    And Linda, congratulations. I know how incredibly hard it is, but each day is a new day. And think of the wonderful things you would have missed if you weren’t sober. We’re all very lucky to have you here in this family.

  7. There’s this lovely thought on page 19:
    “The big red candle in the shack was a mistake, as any thinking person could see, and she imagined herself flinging it hard into the river. But taking it away smacked of something Laura preached against, which was Getting Too Thick Into Events. One Never Knows, AND SOMETIMES THE THING THAT BURNS IS MEANT TO BURN AND MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO WATCH.”
    The all-caps is mine, of course, but what a magnificant meditation! We Didn’t Start The Fire, right?

  8. HAVEN! The Cassie-with-dead-groundhog scene in SOMETHING RISING. Omigosh, laugh-out-loud funny. You have lived this event, either watching or rolling the groundhog yourself. Right? Everybody, page 27. Read it. It’s grand.

  9. ~~ Spoiler Alert ~~


    I’m in the heart of SOMETHING RISING, literally the middle of the book, reading Laura’s apologia. The orchestral prelude is so sweet, with the violins playing high and melodic, but beneath the bass and cello are sounding a long, low note of warning:
    “Do you know,” Laura said, tracing the lip of her glass with her fingertip, “that we live and trade our days for lies invented thousands of years ago, Cassie?”
    And I love this motif that plays halfway through: “[Cassie] stared out the kitchen window at the yard, at the bird feeder where the finches would be, if it were morning and if there were finches.”

    Wow, girlfriend. Just … it’s all in here. You. Are. My. Hero.

  10. Haven,
    Of all your published work, SOMETHING RISING seems the bleakest. Each member of the Claiborne family (another great name, by the way) is dragging themselves forward. Even Edwin and Uncle Bud are stolid characters. Puck and Emmy are sad individuals. This is merely an observation, not a criticism. Each book you’ve written can easily stand alone. I don’t float through SOMETHING RISING like I do the other novels. It’s genius, but solemn genius. Do you think so …? What was writing it like for you?

  11. ~~ SPOILER ALERT ~~


    I love the scene with Alan the palm reader who does not use Cassie’s palm in his reading. At first his name made me think of “elan,” but when that didn’t seem right I looked up Alan and got this: “The Alan are deformed spirits from the folklore of the Tinguian tribe of the Philippines. They have wings, and their fingers and toes point backwards.” This definition I really like. The atmosphere of the New Orleans night, Alan speaking right through Cassie’s comments and ignoring them, telling her more about what ISN’T there for her than what is. Haven, you have a future in fortune-telling, if you want one.

    And while I’m running ahead, thank you for this: “Nothing said run like the fact of her origin: Laura and Jimmy innocent of each other, then innocent no longer, hell-bent on ruination and their children the evidence they succeeded.” You and Michelangelo, carving perfection from so much marble.

  12. I don’t have any insights, at least not yet, but I did want to say that I have never in my life been so happy to have judged a book by its cover. I saw that distinctive green while walking down an aisle at the library and grabbed it right off of the shelf. I then read Solace (backwards, I know) because Something Rising just blew me away.

    I’m also grateful that I recommended it to a friend, who read it and immediately peppered me with so many questions about my thoughts and feelings that I had to read it again (thanks LB ;-).

    And to this day, this is my favorite book title. I pointed it out to everyone I came across during my reading of it. It makes my stomach flip (in a good way).

  13. Jason P., I think Indiana (many parts of it) are far more terrifying than what we generally consider the south. Where is it, it’s in one of my books, where a character goes to the county fair and she sees this horrifically repulsive man walking around wearing a t-shirt that says, “Remember My Name, You’re Going to Be Screaming It Later.” That’s the god honest truth. I saw it with my own two eyes. And he was one of hundreds just like him. My sister owned a diner outside of Mooreland and when I visited all the regulars would sit and stare at me openly, with deep hostility, because . . . I don’t know why. I wasn’t one of them? I was happy? I wasn’t chain-smoking and saying poisonous things to my husband who was connected to an oxygen tank? I don’t know. Melinda, what was that about? But it’s that way everywhere in my part of the state. People treat me like a pariah, and it’s not because they’ve read my books. These are not the consumers of literary fiction, trust me. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the majority of the people who glare at me with the most venom don’t have so much as a magazine in their house.

    And don’t get me started on the religion. Jesus wept.

  14. Jodi, my SISTER made me roll the dead groundhog 16 acres and across the road, the groundhog which weighed 98 pounds, after the pig dogs, who were bathed in blood, had killed it. AND they kept going after it. Oh how I have suffered in this life. MELINDA.

  15. SRLS is a bleak novel (but funny, too), and looking back on it I think I was trying to write the third volume of ZIPPY without writing it. That’s the best clue I can give you.

    But I also attempted an experiment with it. Stephen King says in ON WRITING that you should write a draft and eliminate 10% of it. Literally. Do a word count, cut 10%. I thought that was just dandy advice, and so I thought, “Hmmm, what if I cut every SENTENCE by 10%?” So I did that, and that book was tighter than a tick. My editor told me if I didn’t open it up and let some air in it would begin screaming before it ever was published.

  16. Early in the book, and because I ride a bicycle a little, I was feeling right brotherly toward Cassie, so I was a bit concerned about the condition of her bike. This was before I knew that even if the chain had snapped and the tires had popped at the same time Cassie could handle it herself, thank you very much.

    So I wrote Haven about it. Haven invited me to select a suitable ride for Cassie, so I concocted a scenario where Jimmie had won a fantastic Italian bike from a cocky IU Little 500-rider college kid in a pool game in Ellettsville, Ind.

    It would have looked something like this:

    This type of bike is so cool that only Jesus should be allowed to ride it, perhaps the Dahli Llama, Einstein or Jackie Wilson.

    The deal is that it is about right for a girl like Cassie who is cool enough herself to modify it with a very uncool bike seat she picked up for $5 at The Used World Emporium that looks something like this:

    Ok, now that’s settled, I can discuss the literary points of the book, including the delicious exchange Cassie had in New Orleans where the definition of what it is to be a Hoosier is settled finally once and for all.

  17. my first thought is that if there were any one of Cassie’s gifts that i could claim, it would be her ability to read humans and human behavior. i covet this part of her deeply. i love the way she reads her friends, so very quietly. i love the way she reads Jackson LaFollette and knows what he will do before he knows it.

    one of my favorite lines: “‘Did he look like a killer?’…’Everybody looks like a killer to me,’ said Cassie.”

  18. I was the icons weren’t so damn tiny and that I wasn’t going blind. Is that icon Minnesota Fats, Haven?

  19. I also wish I could write without a typo.

  20. Dee, you rock the stadium again. That’s Jackie Gleason playing Minnesota Fats. One of my favorite facts about “The Hustler” (besides God in God’s infinite wisdom seeing fit to give us Paul Newman) is that Jackie Gleason did NOT have a double. He was one of the greatest players who ever lived. And Paul Newman shot his own, too, with the exception of the trick shot where two balls land in one pocket, and that was filmed with Willie Mosconi’s hands. Oh what a beautiful movie it is. If you’re me, I mean.

    Also, I have an unremitting love for Jackie Gleason. I think he’s a god. He’s my favorite physical type — a really large man with the grace of a ballerina. I just LOVE those men.

  21. aside: Obama supporters will LOVE this link. be sure to keep clicking “show more images” at the end… it made me cry.

  22. FYI

    Listening to the radio this morning on the way to work
    these folks had a nice happy birthday tribute for Augusten Burroughs. Also: a poem by one David Shumate that made me yell “YEAH” a couple times.

    You can read both at:

  23. Matt,
    I heard the same show this morning on the way to work, on NPR. I thought the same thing! 🙂

  24. I wrote him early this morning and told him to put on his tranny suit, his silk panties, eat a whole cake with no utensils, abuse everyone around him, and run his brother over with his own tractor. It sounded like HEAVEN to him.

  25. I guess I’m you then. “The Hustler” is one of my all time favorite movies. “The Color of Money” might have been but the, pre-nose-job, Tom Cruise drove me crazy with all the arrogant stick twirling.

  26. I would absolutely LOVE to see what Augusten looks like in his tranny suit.

  27. I need to be working…but speaking of pool movies, does anyone here remember The Baron and the Kid? both The Hustler and Color of Money are great, great, great. Baron and the Kid came out in the late or mid 80s featuring Johnny Cash.

    Ok, I am back to the grindstone.

  28. Never heard of it, George, I just put it at the top of my queue.

  29. I’m at the “grindstone” for a little while longer, but I would surely die,die,die of boredom if my laptop wasn’t with me 24/7. I mean I can only rearrange birds, stare at the pheasant, and pet the coyote so much before boredom strikes. Sales are few and far between, to say the least.

  30. Particle, you’ve probably mentioned this at some point, but what do you do? I have a few guesses based on the items you listed, but I wanted to find out for sure!

  31. Some initial thoughts.

    Cassie, has always been my favorite character in any of these books. I feel hesitant to use the word character because she felt so real to me.

    Haven, I think what you said about Indiana rings true. I’ve lived here my whole life and sometimes feel that hostility you speak of. Maybe I wear my liberelism a little to proudly and that makes me stick out a bit. I will say I’m beginning to feel a shift ever so slightly. The fact that Obama is in play at all in Indiana is stunning to me, but fill me with a glimmer of hope. I’m starting to feel like sticking around and fighting the good fight has almost been worth it.


    A Colnago! Oh man I could already tell you were cool, but to throw up a piece of fine Italian art like that just thrusts you in the statosphere. You are not just cool in my book…. You are like Elvis cool now, like Dylan going electric cool. Well you get the picture.

  32. Scott- Cassie has always been my favorite too. I wish I had half of what she has that makes her so cool, so tough, so giving. It’s been a long time since I’ve read SR.. but I remember when she bought all that food and took it to her friends. I was so overwhelmed by her…complexity. Heart.

  33. I think the ‘staring’ thing may be more of a universal insider / outsider thing – I’ve seen it a lot in New England, both in urban areas (e.g., South Boston – think Good Will Hunting) and rural areas (e.g., Maine, N.H., Vermont).

    Tomorrow I’ll be driving through Indy, Mooreland (definitely not slowing down!), and over to Columbus, so I’ll see what kinds of stares I encounter.

  34. Scott: see how easily I’m distracted.

    Yeah, I think I did Cassie proud picking out that particularly bike. It has a Campy Nuovo groupo, which means nothing to most people in her town, but I like to think that Cassie is privately pretty darned aware at what a great bike this is. I think she is in love with the “club” marking on the downtube (Lord knows I am!!!)

    I have actually seen a bike like Colnago not just once, but often, in and around Bloomington, Ind. I own four bikes — all of them classic ones I bought for a song — and I would trade them all for this Italian beauty. (My two main bikes are a C-dale ST600 with biopace pedals and an old school Mongoose 7.1 police bike with the k-frame that I use as a commuter.)

  35. George, I have a bike. It hangs upside down from the ceiling of the barn, as art.

  36. Scott:

    My son called me the Obama-visit-to-Indy update. Incredible. He may actually carry Indiana.

    About those stares…I used to get them all the time when I was on the road and would stop in at places for a coffee or something. I like to think “the look” isn’t hostile but I never put it to the test, remembering the sage advice: Do Not Make Eye Contact.

  37. I was just asked to speak at an Obama rally in Raleigh on Sunday!!!!

    I am not smart enough for this job but I said yes anyway. I figure if Sarah Palin can make it this far, I can surely wing a few words about my boyfriend, Barack.

  38. George, people used to look directly at me and then point at me and say things aloud to their choking spouses. Where the hell is my SISTER? She’s supposed to EXPLAIN all these things. GOD, I give and give and give to the woman and what do I get in return? *

    *Homemade quilts.

  39. Naturally a bike like that has to have campy! Shimano on a Colnago would be a sin against mankind. I think Cassie would dig the retro feel of downtube shifters as well. I tooled around on a Colnago c40 with Campy record a couple of months ago, it rode like a dream. I run our local bike shop, so I ride what we sell, but I’m racing on a Madone 5.2 pro series. Don’t get me started I can talk bikes all day!

  40. (Note to self:) Go over to Rural King and buy plastic hoot owl for Haven to attach to top tube on upside down bike art in her barn.

  41. Umm, Dee — I have a coyote — I have two, so I know what that means. Are you a TAXIDERMIST? Because if so I’m feeling a tad faint.

  42. Haven – I hope someone plans to videotape your appearance on Sunday! What an honor. If you have a taxidermied pig you HAVE to take it along. HA HA.

  43. Haven,

    You will do Barack proud! What is your clothing allowence?

  44. I can talk bikes all day, too. My greatest human accomplishment was doing the Hilly Hundred a few years ago. I trained that whole summer. Used to ride with the Bloomington Bike Club all the time. Real quick..which bike shop?

  45. Haven! SWWWWEEEEET about the rally!!!!!!!!!!!! Which one is it???

  46. I wrote him early this morning and told him to put on his tyrany suit, his silk panties, eat a whole cake with no utensils, abuse everyone around him, and run his brother over with his own tractor. It sounded like HAVEN to him.

    Damn, Haven, I bet you’d write one peach of an advice column…

    And just what the deuce is a tyranny suit???
    “Tonight, we shall wear our Tyranny Suits!”
    Well, maybe just a Tyranny Hat.

  47. Wow, Haven!!!!! Someone has to get that videoed! I know several of my friends will be there.

    Haven and Barack…talk about a double feature.

    Wow, I should come down.

  48. I just spent this weekend at the Hilly! Not as a rider we were there as a vendor. Good for you for doing it. It’s a tough ride. My summer goal is always the Ride Across Indiana. Terre Haute to Richmond in one day. A great ride! My shop is the Cycling and Fitness Warehouse. We will have been open for one year November 6. If you are ever in Richmond stop by and see me!

  49. God, you people, if it isn’t corn it’s bicycles.

    My clothing allowance is 72 trillion dollars, paid for by Amnesty International.

    Don’t you see? The only thing that matters is if Dee is a taxidermist. And also there is no one to feed me dinner.

  50. I just got back from seeing Bill Maher’s RELIGULOUS. I was alone in the theatre with the two old men from The Muppet Show who sat in the balcony. They came in after the lights went down, so we smiled and waved at each other like old friends before the movie began.

    Maher made fabulous points in a stand-up comedian style, which is a style I happen to like. He traveled all over the globe, talking to leaders and devotees both. He spoke to “Jesus” several times — once at a Jesus theme park in Orlando, and once to a Hispanic man who claims he is both a descendant of Jesus as well as the reincarnation of Him. It all moves very quickly, and while there are lots of lines I wish I could recall to quote, I’ll have to see it again to pick them up.

    Has anyone else seen it?

  51. Sorry I’m easily distracted. The A.D.D is even worse when bicycling is mentioned. I’ve gotten it out of my system now. It’s all good.

  52. Oh Bill Maher is a hero of mine! I download the podcast of his HBO show each week from itunes since Steph and I are to cheap to pay for premium cable. I can’t wait to see that movie.

  53. it outta my system, too…though I am still ADD, but bikes did figure into the novel…

    ok, back to taxidermy, dinner and clothing budgets

  54. Oh! Only have a second, but the Amber who posted earlier is the one who MADE me read Something Rising, and for that I will love her forever and ever, amen.

    More on my favorite book ever later.:)

  55. Yes, Haven, I know – welcome to my world – its cycling all the time with Scott! It’s a good thing he’s cute! Get this – he wants to keep the damn bikes in our house! He has also been known to talk to them! I can’t always make out what he’s saying, but its suspiciously sounds like he’s saying “sorry she won’t let me bring you in from the cold garage” but I can’t be sure. Sheesh!

  56. I meant a tranny suit, you Hill Womp.

  57. Yesterday my good friend James asked if I’d seen any talkies during my convalescence and I couldn’t think of a one.

  58. Way to make me sound like a psycho dear!

  59. Where are Kate and Sher?? I miss them.

    taxidermy: when my husband and I made the decision to get our cat “done” when his time is up, I called
    “Chet” the local taxidermist. He’s real nice and will do it for 200, which I thought was a fair price. I am nervous about it and how I will feel. Eyes open or closed?? He’s really not a nice cat, but I’m attached…advice?

  60. Oh, and about the Obama rally…SO EXCITING. I’ve been volunteering here (NC) but I wish I could be there on Sunday. I’m sure it will be fantastic. He has to win, he just has to.

  61. I have been running errands all day and I am so exhausted. In addition to dropping off magazines I have:

    Gone to the post office to hang out with Darryl, my favorite post office guy.

    Shopped at my favorite antique store that is Going Out of Business. Got a coat and some sweet little 1950s circus toys.

    Tried to stop the dearest, sweetest old man from participating in a money-wiring scam. Was unsuccessful.

    Bought the bulk of my winter wardrobe at Goodwill, plus two light sabers and a McDonald’s Madame Alexander Doll. It was one of those deals where you have to buy the bag of crap toys for $1 to get the one good toy.

    Ate some truly delicious Chinese food at my favorite spot where the lunch specials are only $5. I had garlic chicken and hot and sour soup. Also, is it just me or are fortune cookies not as good as they used to be?

  62. Wish I could see you at the rally. You would blow Ms. Hockey Mom away even if your clothing budget was zero. But do take something “stuffed” if they’ll let you 😉 I thought about the $150,000 wardrobe and my reaction was “talk about lipstick on a pig”…..

  63. HAVEN,

    I Knew it!!! The groundhog scene in SOMETHING RISING was too real not to have been inflicted on you. Thanks to Melinda for being a big sister and creating that jewel for all of us to read.

    And I gotta know — Jack-Q, which you don’t further explain. What’s the significance? Is it “j’accuse”? AND — AND where did Alan the palm reader come from in your experience? Just put Spoiler Alert on the posting if you’re afraid it will ruin someone’s reading of the book.

  64. Ok, comments.

    My favorite Hoosier t-shirt? Free Mustache Rides

    I kind of thought of SR as a Zippy Sequal. Jimmy was very Bob Jarvis. Who is Puck? I want to know.

    I can’t ride a bike. But, check out what I am getting my son for Christmas!

  65. Kate – I agree fortune cookies have had the fun sucked out them.

    Kimbits – I suggest eyes closed since they won’t be his real eyes and looking into fake eyes won’t be the same.

    Amy – Where in Ohio are you?

  66. Well, Stephanie, since you brought it up, Scott’s bikes should be kept in the house. Where else, may I ask? Bikes should also be “spoken” too on a regular basis. They like that — especially heavy old Huffys that don’t normally get a lot of lovin’.

  67. When you speak this weekend I hope you remember to mention me Michael the computer tech. (jk) but I was just told no for the 4th time this year about a raise and that we are making cuts. Basically be happy you ass has a job for now.

    The guy with you will be screaming shirt on reminds me of the “Michigan jack pine savages” who are hard on every living thing they come in contact with.

    OK I will regret this because it’s such an obvious question that everyone but myself knows. but I have read SRLS twice and I consider myself an intelligent well read fisherman but what was Cassie’s issue with La Follett (sp?)

    OK I will regret this because its such a obvious question but I have read SRLS twice and I consider myself a intellengent well read fisherman but what was Cassie’s issue with La Follett (sp?)

  68. OMG, Haven, if I did taxidermy for a living I’d be poorer than I am now. I can’t even figure out how the guy got that coyote from dead to looking alive but dead. I have a horribly weak stomach. I barely made it through Shelby’s infant-hood. She puked on an almost daily basis until she was 5 years old. It nearly killed me. I can barely tolerate picking up Gracie’s puppy poo.

    Stephanie – I do too many things to make any sense, but I only make enough money to cover basic needs, because I’m terrible at charging for my skills. I’m actually a computer and website nerd. Thankfully, my biggest client is my sister’s telecommunications business and she pays me well without me asking her too.

    I also cover my brother-in-laws new store, in the mall (BORING), while he works his regular job during the day. That’s where the coyote is here’s a picture again.

    Oh, and I attend Grand Valley State University at night. I’m in class right now, but don’t tell anyone. heh.

  69. See it’s not just me! No more eye rolls from you Steph. George is a wise man, and we should listen to him. The “kids” are coming in the house tonight!

  70. No, Scott – you just love that bike, that is all! 🙂

  71. Deeparticles, thank you for the quote. Unfortunately I think I may have been like that a time or two. But, not any more.

    Haven, remember Dee said her brother-in-law opened a shop with the taxidermy as part of it. So, I believe she helps see ‘um, not stuff ‘um.

    I am go glad you all are talking amongst yourselves again and not discussing the book (ha!) because my copy is at home and I LOVE this book and actually want to participate in the discussion and usually that happens in the middle of the night. So, I started out reading this thread thinking, oh great, I am missing another one because they are discussing it while I was in meetings. So, talk about bicycles, Obama, and fortune cookies for a few more hours, ok?


  72. …it’s too dangerous and chilly to leave ’em outside

  73. oops. not see ‘um– SELL ‘um. She sells the dead animals.

  74. Eyes are ALWAYS open on taxidermy. Otherwise they would look like your Aunt Lovey in her casket, all covered with pancake makeup when she was a Nazarene and never wore an ounce of cosmetics in her dear righteous life.

    I am in real trouble about the dinner situation here.

    But Dee, you HAVE a taxidermied coyote? How can that be? I’m getting ready to sell three items. If anyone has a hankering for a chinchilla, a mink, or a an entire gray fox on a big stone slab, let me know. You’d get the Blog Baby discount.

  75. Michael T., that chapter is called ‘Shadow Father.’ All along Cassie wished, every time Jimmy broke her heart, that if her mother had only married the fantasy man in New Orleans, her life would have turned out differently. But consider what kind of man he turns out to be.

  76. I am so slow. Good grief. I am leaving work now to go home and sign back on. Ok, after dinner. But, I have to drive my son back up to Vanderbilt so he can go to the Lil Wayne concert that is part of the start of Homecoming here. My son said, NOT “Little” Wayne, Mom. Geez. LIL Wayne. And somebody else who is apparently fabulous that I have never heard of. So, it will be a late night, but I am a way cool mom.

  77. Haven, I would totally bring you dinner if you asked. True fact.

  78. (am now completely daydreaming about sharing sushi and poetry with haven kimmel. ha!)

  79. omg – no I am, too, almostclouds! YUM! And what excellent company, too!

  80. So when she got there she felt angry at what she saw and kicked his butt. I loved that book best of all the novels. Obviously I need to read it again.

    Also Jackie G play pool with Jack Clugman in a well written episode of the Twilight Zone ” A game of pool”
    People think im nuts for watching the honeymooners every night before bed, they just dont get it.

  81. how about some fried chicken livers and gravy?

  82. almostclouds just said the magig word… Sushi! My death row meal would feture a large serveing of sush.

  83. mmm sushi.

  84. Amanda, if only I hadn’t foraged with the mastiffs I would LOVE to have sushi with you. DAMN.

  85. Haven, there is a wonderful, family run sushi place in Muncie called Domos, just off of McGalliard. Have you ever visited Domos? It is so good, it will make you want to hit someone, I swear.

  86. She isn’t kidding, I normaly get slapped pretty hard by her when we go there.

  87. oooohhhh George, my hero…can you add some fried chicken gizzards to that, also?
    As for SRLS, my favorite parts are in New Orleans, especially when she kicks butt. SO satisfying.

  88. Haven,

    I will gladly make/take you to dinner on Sunday!
    Tickled. Proud. Oh my word!

    Dee (Raleigh Dee)

  89. i live literally across the street from Waraji, the best sushi joint in Raleigh. You just say when.

  90. back to the book: I think it is interesting that we don’t get to meet Dante, even though I know he’s not the point of that part of the story. I’d say that portion of the story is about developing Puck and Emmy as characters, as well as demonstrating more of Cassie’s protectiveness toward everyone around her. I love that about Cassie.

  91. What I love about Puck is how he is so completely an outsider in his home town and how fully he embraces that.

  92. haven – have you read THE GREAT ONE, gleason’s biography/ it’s stunning. ill lend it to you when i get there. yes, he’s the great one. love the Hutler, loved the endof SRLAS, loved that book to pieces, esp the ending pool scene and the speech about love being holy that laura delivers. it still haunts me.

    gleason also never rehearsed for the honeymooners. ever.

  93. yes Suzanne Sometimes you can tell he is improvising but he does it really well. That show just relaxes me and takes me to a different time which is nice once in a while.

  94. It is hard for me to discuss SRLS without making the connections I see from the other books . . . be that as it may, I think I can safely say,


    I love that we get to see a view of young Emmy (from a child/teen) to her overwhelming frazzled existence as a mother in Used World.

    Also, isn’t it great that Poppy has 3 dogs (and their descriptions are just stellar) – I actually want to do a painting of that trinity – I’ve never painted a dog in my life, but when I read those descriptions, I could just see them in all their glory.

    Re WHERE I’VE BEEN . . .
    overseeing electrical work in the studio, unpacking art that has been in storage for more than a year, assessing damage . . . like Linda I have been chauffering my teenage babies to school activities.

    I’m also trying to show some level of control on my blogging . . . I swear I turn this laptop on and my day is gone . . .

    I have lots of admiration for SRLS, but most of my input is about cross over characters, so I’m not sure if I am allowed to bring them up . . .

    Regarding being stared at . . .

    I think most of my relatives and acquaintances in Indiana think I am “high on my horse” or say “who does she think she is” or “she’s too big for their britches” – because I can express my own opinion and do what I want to without feeling that I have to conform.

    Although I choose my battles, I am not ashamed to be a non-conformist and rocking a few boats. I think it is a regional and generational, and sociological/religious ideology that separates me – I guess I set myself apart. I have, like Haven has discussed, a ridiculous amount of self-confidence in 98 percent of my life. I think that people do sense that and they assume that it is denigrating to them and their life choices, which is definately not the case. We all need to find our own peace in our own way.

    I am often misunderstood and I think it is that people assume that my not being like them is criticism – I can’t let that stop me, but I do try to use fewer syllable words, chat more about local things, and show an interest in them and their lives. That seems to smooth over most situations – I have to keep my career and my family apart (as JohnM witnessed last weekend) because it is threatening to them, they see it as stealing from them/their time. What is unfortunate is that I can’t fully share who I am and it is sad to be loved for one part of me and not another part.

    Also I have had a sibling say that they are/were jeoulous that I am happy and that I was or could find happiness as a child, when they couldn’t. I am so glad that I can keep the good and cope with the bad.

    Also, I was born (this will sound weird), in a way cursed, with being pretty. I was told as a teen to not look men in their eyes with my “bedroom” eyes as I would lead them into sin. That paired with sexual abuse led to lots of shame about my body and face. I’ve dealt with that, but lots of time I feel that I am judged on how I look. One reason I gained weight was as armour (I think) and, of course, I loved mashed potatoes! I am trying to get more perspective on this and celebrate and accept what I am – it is hard to erase the past beliefs that were forced upon me . . . I keep working on it though.

  95. I didn’t mean to have a “come to jesus meeting” or anything . . . sorry, that was a LONG post!

  96. In re: this being the third Zippy, the one otherwise unwritable

    Dorothy Allison memorably said “What I am
    here for is to rescue my dead. And to scare hell
    out of you now and then. I was raised Baptist, I
    know how to do that.”

    I like to imagine Haven replying “I was raised Quaker. I learned.”

  97. RE Cover of SRLS –

    mine is of a young woman standing on a hood of a truck, with scarf and dress blowing in the wind – it shows the vast flat landscape of middle IL/IN – I love that cover, I think I would have been confused about the pool table view, but definately would have bought it with Haven’s name on it.

    But I really like the landscape/woman photo! It reminded me of the girl from Footloose, Lori Singer and when she straddled the speeding cars on the gravel road . . .

  98. i have a hard time imagining Cassie in a dress…

  99. ya’ll! a google image search of SRLS is awesome. the third row… chunky baby in a sink. awesome.

  100. amanda – yeah, after reading the book I wouldn’t picture her that way either, it is really a vintage looking full slip, and she’s wearing heavy work boots and the scarf is probably crocheted and really long . . .

  101. Oh man, there are only like 90 posts here, and already SO MUCH to reply to.

    I hate hate hate that I don’t own a copy of SRLS, and can’t go looking through it right now (though I guess if I did have one, it would be packed into boxes in the house I’m moving into next week along with the rest of my books…my apartment looks bleak without them). I actually have not read this one, only listened to the audiobook, but it is my favorite of all Haven’s novels (I think. Man, they’re all so good).

    Since I don’t have the text at hand, I’m not prepared to discuss anything in detail but I do want to say this: I first listened to this on cd instead of reading it, and had to stop and rewind SO MANY TIMES I barely got any work done that day (best job ever, by the way, basically getting paid to sit around and listen to books on cd).

    In keeping with the spirit of the discussion at hand, I loved the scene in the New Orleans diner where Cassie first encounters Thomas (who I fell in love with, like I frequently do with fictional characters), and the commentary on Indiana, which I recorded into my notebook (please forgive the poor quoting to follow).

    Especially this: “I met a couple of people from Indiana. They were all deeply troubled and appeared to be normal.” My best friend, who is from Michigan, uttered a single, “Yup,” in response to my telling her this.

    And then “Another thing I noticed about you Indianians – ”


    “Hoosiers. Is that once you’re removed from your home state, you miss it somethin’ fierce. I find that curious given the facts about Indiana.”

    “What are the facts about Indiana?”

    “Flat. Ugly. Stupid. Reactionary. I could think of some more if I put my mind to it.”

    I have tried to move away from Indiana three times now, and I keep coming back no matter how far I venture. It’s just in the blood. I’ve never understood how someone could completely forget the minutes of a childhood spent in barnyards and cornfields, like I was frequently expected to have done when I was living elsewhere. It’s frustrating to see my family (immediate family excluded, as they are nothing but brilliant lights in the landscape) and know they would never bother to try to understand what my life is like, even though I haven’t let go of the fierce love of my childhood and the people in it.

    Also I wish I had known a Cassie when I was in high school. Sher: I left my farm town high school after sophomore year to go to a fancy school in Muncie, and at that point everyone decided that I had left them behind in the snobbiest way possible. I felt a lot differently about Indiana at 17, but I never disparaged it in the way that my family thinks I do. Now I only really see them once a year at Christmas. They are kind people, just sometimes uncharitable about the world outside.

  102. Wow that was long. I also mean to say, Haven, it’s so awesome that you get to speak at the rally, although we may have to have some words about this whole boyfriend thing.

    I missed the Indianapolis rally (seriously, I live THREE BLOCKS from the fairgrounds…) because I had to work, and though I prayed and prayed, Obama did not come into Starbucks that day. I really just wanted to throw my panties at him.

  103. It’s funny, in many ways I have had such a typical midwestern life and in other ways, not at all. And the people in my family who most hold to the stereotypes are from Michigan! I guess it really does matter that I am in Southern Indiana. Did I mention the extraordinary amount of rednecks?

    Sher, you are completely lovely, and it’s amazing how it doesn’t make a person one bit happier. In fact, it can make life worse as you so aptly explained.

    My favorite parts of SR, and, keep in mind, I’ve only read it twice, is the part where Poppy is describing how strange people can be, and that Buena Vista had all her worldly possessions strapped to her torso. Lord, do I know some people like that.

    I also loved the descriptions of Cass and her friends. Cass is nothing like me, but she is exactly who I would have been friends with.

  104. I found Cassie to be an unbelievable character the first two times that I read SLRS. Then, just now I sat down to write this comment, and I realized that every idea I was considering writing about Cassie, I could just as well write about myself. I haven’t done any critical thinking about literature since high school. Does this happen to everyone?

    Anyway, I couldn’t figure Cassie out–how could her personality share such fierceness & silence as well as caregiving? But then I realized that perhaps the caregiving came first, as a bedrock personality trait, and the fierceness resulted from her care being rebuffed more often than accepted. It resulted from dissonance in her perceptions of the world: She felt so much love, and gave Laura and Belle her (often silent) care, but because they had each other, they didn’t seem as if they appreciated it. Jimmy didn’t reciprocate her care. Emmy and Puck’s behavior didn’t change as a result of her care.

    All of these rebuffs combined might have made it attractive to develop armor. Maybe for multiple reasons:

    – to make it seem more like she was deflecting other people’s care, rather than that other people’s care simply wasn’t there.

    – to keep too much care from being visible to its targets, since it didn’t seem to be doing a lot of good.

    – to feel more manageable emotions, like anger, rather than unmanageable emotions, like heartbreak.

    I didn’t understand where any of her loving thoughts/actions came from, because she’s so unavailable, quiet and mean. But it makes more sense to me to think that all of the love is inborn, and everything else is her response to it.

  105. I think it could be both; perhaps her subdued nature was the starting off point for all she did to take care of her family and actually, everyone, even people she barely knew (I recall being shocked at the depths of her generosity, and determination to make everyone’s lives run more smoothly even at her own expense).

    Like she knew subconsciously that she would never be some affectionate, eloquent spouter of family devotion, so she would just go ahead and make money hustling and buy the groceries to make sure that at least she knew how much she loved them.

  106. I once lived with a girl who was nothing but a bundle of contradictions. And above all, she needed to be needed. She was only happy if she was showering you with gifts and keeping you in her control. If she wasn’t so mean that character trait of hers would have made her a very fine person. Her fierceness was not as tempered as Cassie’s.

  107. i’ve got to take a break to spend some time with The Dark Side: The True Story Behind the Iraq War, which is overdue to the library, but I LOVE Alon’s comment. I can’t wait to get back and see what’s new.

  108. Alon –

    that was very good character evaluation.

    I think the meanness is more of strength and a naturally occurring defense mechanism which results from the negligence of her life. Not all abuse is physical or sexual. the meer fact of Laura’s self-involvement and lack of action in her life (I think her “holy union” thing was a complete cop-out, one that she really believed, but a cop-out nonetheless) is a horrid example to a girl. She and Belle were completely dependent upon Cassie and yet shut her out of their lives when it was convenient to them.

    I feel pretty attached to Cassie in that I also cared for my siblings (younger and older), I am the first one they call in crisis, but also the first that they want to criticize and blame. It is a hard line to walk.

    Line by the way, is one of the main themes I see in SRLS.

  109. Suzanne –

    You bringing up Pepperidge Farm cakes brought back so many memories.

    When I was young (with my 7 other siblings), we would sit in the Country Squire (olive green with fake wood panelling) station wagon after church (windows down) while Mom and Daddy Jim went into the IGA after church. this took hours for them to shop and how none of us killed the other is a miracle. My brothers would honk the horn and received a few “licks” because of it.

    But, best of all, the last aisle they went down with the freezer one. They would have a whole bag of frozen cakes and lemon cream pies . . . I loved to eat them frozen and still love to splurge on one and eat a frozen piece of cake or pie for breakfast and again before bed. It has been YEARS since I did that . . . but if I ever go on a retreat by myself again – my freezer will be stocked with those confections!

    Thanks for bringing back such great memories!

  110. I didn’t see Cassie as unavailable or mean. Quiet yes. Quiet and angry but not mean. Her violence comes from anger not meanness. Mean people have absolutely no abilities for care-taking.

  111. That was kind of my point…that is where that girl and Cassie parted ways. Cassie was tough as nails, but kind. That girl I knew had the exact same ability to care-take, but she was controlling and ultimately unkind. She was like Cassie’s evil twin.

  112. Kate – I recognize that girl of whom you speak – the ones that say “no strings attached” and then they work you like a puppet!

  113. EXACTLY. And they suck ALL the air out of the room when they are mad.

  114. I too have always had great fondness for Cassie. The toughness which masks her vulnerability; her taciturnity; the way longing for her father hardens into a modelling of certain elements of his character; she’s very believable to me. And I am moved by the tenderness between her and Thomas.

    Anyone else find Thomas . . . familiar?

  115. I’m gettin’ chilly just thinking about them!

  116. Cassie reminds me of times in my life when through some combination of intuition, willfullnes, and fearlessness born of desperation I did something stupid and brave that turned out to be the right thing to do. I operate that way very seldom (especially these days), but it seems that Cassie is always living in that moment.

    For me the biggest contrast between this book and TSOLE is that while Anna Lee and Amos question the nature of God, Cassie consistently operates as if she is her own savior. Does anyone have a theory on the how humans intersect with the Divine in Cassie’s world?

    It’s so good to be talking about this book. I couldn’t participate in TSOLE except to relate how I got sunburned reading it, and how it is still too sacred for me to analyze.

  117. I haven’t read SR yet, but still wanted to comment on another thread…I saw Barack (MY boyfriend) in Indy today! We were about 20 feet from the podium. A-maz-ing! I’m kicking myself for not pushing my way up to the front to try to shake his hand. Sigh. Indiana is going blue for Barack!

  118. From your lips to God’s ears, AnneWithAnE – I never thought I’d see the day our state went Democratic. Whoo hoo for the great hoosier state!

  119. Oh, John , you are being naughty – I got in trouble for that on the Solace thread . . .you must say (((SPOILER ALERT))) or you will get chastized!

    But, I totally AGREE with your recognition . . . It is almost impossible to talke about SRLS withOUT making the links . . . what should we do in this regard??

  120. My copy of the book has the cover with the girl standing on the car too. She doesn’t look like Cassie to me either so I was not sure about the picture until I read the part about the rattlesnake kite. Of course.

  121. Puck – what a card! His verbiage is so eloquent and cavelier – I think he should be wearing shining armour and carry his sheathed sword – in fact, his words remind me of our own knight-in-shining-armour – George!

  122. i want to write

    night in shining armour

    picturing the moon light bouncing off the dew on the land – I love to go outside in wee small hours, especially with a full moon or a starry night and spend many nights lying on driveways, the backs of trucks, or right on RT. 1 (I love the way heat rises out of the asphalt and warms you in the chilly night) – talking about life with friends – it is almost what we do here.

  123. Matt reminds me of Puck. You just have to laugh. I mean that in a good way, Matt.

  124. Linda – oh, you hit the nail on the head girl!

  125. Steph–I know! I can’t believe it either, but I think it could actually happen!

    Has anyone pinned Haven down as to who will be videotaping her on Sunday, and who will be sending us the link??? (Will HE be back from Hawaii by then? What a photo op!)

  126. SRLS – pg. 99

    this wraps out our Midwestern mindset queries:

    “they didn’t know how to change”

    I think that is so key, they don’t even consider or recognize change, it doesn’t even cross their minds. That might be a better existence – because, think about this, IF you knew your life was shit, how could you go on day-to-day? I don’t mean that in a denigrating way, but not everbody sees another way, or NEEDS another way. Sometimes, I think that state of mind would be much easier than constantly challenging yourself and striving for an evolution of your mind and soul. In a sense, it is adaptation at its best.

    So then we (intelligiestas??) float in and inadvertently hold up a mirror to their misery . . . but it is actually ok with me that they remain status quo, I’m grasping for understanding here.

    Some of my folks are so kind hearted and would do anything for anyone – I just can’t see the lowliness of spirit to equate with the lowliness of social stature??? I’m not saying it right, but I think, they, too, are fulfilling their own teleology?

  127. One thing I think about regarding Cassie’s longing for Jimmy and her always waiting for him to return is that can happen even when a father is always there. My father was physically home every single day but emotionally I was always waiting for him to show up. And it was not his fault. I think not feeling or showing affection was a defense mechanism he must have picked up very early. His mother was not an easy woman.

  128. I used the word “mean” to describe Cassie, but I’m rethinking it. Particlesofspirit and Katemckinneycake, I think I understand when you say that Cassie’s not mean-spirited. Like, her behavior manifests from anger, or some other emotion, rather than ill-will.

    I agree with you, so I’m interested in why the word “mean” is the one that came to my mind earlier. I think it’s because I imagine the people she interacts with may be interpreting her that way. Especially during the nighttime scenes when she is out with friends and the scenes when she is with Laura and Belle, I imagine that some people who interact with her feel as if they are of no consequence to her.

    I don’t fault Cassie. If she takes the situation we see laid out for her, and retains her humanity, she has done more than expected.

    But while I was reading, I had a hard time understanding her combination of caring-ness, and…aloofness – like an unwillingness to interact with other people on their terms. Because despite all of her positive qualities, it’s hard to enjoy the company of someone who will not share a conversation with you (repeating herself over and over instead, with Puck in the car, with Belle post-turkey buzzard).

    One important part of care/love is being honest, and giving people the pleasure of knowing you. Going grocery shopping, sharing money, etc., is an expression of care, but it doesn’t negate the rejection that people often interpret when they’re with someone aloof.

    I think this is what makes the end of the book so appealing, and exciting. She does share herself with Thomas.

  129. I wonder. Would and of us think CASSIE was ‘mean,’ if she were a man in her same position?

  130. Alon, from my point of view Cassie couldn’t open and and share herself with others because she didn’t know how. Neither of her parents were emotionally available, Laura was stuck starring out the window waiting for yesterday to show up, and the only thing she could count on Jimmy for was abandonment. How could she possibly know how to be emotionally available to anyone, when she was forced to take on the role of care taker at such a young age?

    Maybe it’s just me and my own history but I understand Cassie 100%. I expressed my anger differently than Cassie, but only because I was incapable of physically fighting anyone that wasn’t a sibling.

  131. Good morning everyone.
    Brandon I am in Dayton:`)However, our house offically went on the market today.
    ” Indiana wants me”

  132. suzanne, i love that question you posed. excellent thought.

  133. This is my big chance to say how much I adored the voice of the woman (Chelsey Rives) who read the audio book of “Something Rising (Light and Swift)”. I thought she did a magnificent job and deserved an award. I’ve always wondered if our esteemed author felt likewise. (I like to think so anyway.)

  134. If Cassie were a man she’d be Jimmy, and we already know what a self-centered jackass he is. Jimmy is more mean-spirited just in the way he treats his family than Cassie is spilling her anger all over town.

  135. Particles, what is it then, about gender, that prevents Cassie from being Jimmy as she is?

  136. ugh, ugh, and ugh , that we always need to genderize everything.

    She’s NOT Jimmy because she somehow acquired the ability to take of her family. She is the one paying all the bills and looking after both her sister and her mother. She has compassion under those layers of protective resistance. She loves the people in her immediate circle, she just know how to express that love.

    Jimmy hot-footed away from NOLA, while Cassie went there of her own accord. Even though Jimmy has never really shown Cassie any loyalty she still displays her loyalty to Jimmy by not only beating the snot out of L’fuckhead in pool but also busting his balls when he chases her down.

  137. It strikes me that the symbolism of this book is perfect to billiards. If you think of all the characters in the book and consider the Cassie the cue ball. At times, she nudges them; at other times it is a hard straight shot; sometimes it’s a cross corner or a really tough cut shot. Anyway, that image came to my mind often. It also explained the anger — especially in terms of seeing really great pool players seemingly take on a pose of controlled rage as they run the table time and again.

    …just a thought I’d throw out there.

  138. It’s not really about gender at all it about the person.

    It’s ALWAYS about the person not the gender.

    Why can’t anyone ever see that.

    The fact that our society is so obsessed with gender is exactly the reason so many people freak out over gays, and trans-genders, and gay marriage.

  139. I wish there was an edit function. Up there /\/\ it’s supposed to say she DOESN’T know how to express that love.

  140. Completely off the subject but I am at work right now and playing on our ” soft, radio station that comes from the tiles in the ceiling” is Fifty Ways to leave your Lover which will always remind me of Ms. Haven and one of my favorite things she has ever put on paper about the records she played over and over again and the records that came up missing.

  141. I think Cassie being aloof is definately not because she doesn’t care but because she cares too much. She knows she will not be a permanent fixture in the lives of the people she cares for/is responsible for. and that hurts….so, being aloof is her protection, her own armour…she is her own knight in shining armour. I so know about this…my dad moved us around like gypsies when I was growing up, so I learned to be ‘aloof’ really early and now I can’t not be. But it doesn’t mean I don’t care. I just want to gather Cassie up and watch her back.

  142. particles, i was only intending to respond to your comment that if cassie were a man she would be jimmy…

  143. WHEW-EE! You people go to town when I retire at 6:00 in the evening. (I hadn’t slept the night before and I
    I’m not really allowed to do that anymore. So I’ll try to address things in order.

    Raleigh Dee, if it’s at all possible I’d be honored to have dinner with you on Sunday. Also it’s possible that the event will be so hairy I won’t actually speak. The person who called said I’d be there for
    ‘star power.’ HA! She should see me now. I’m wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with a beautiful vintage hat Brandon sent me that incidentally has an entire pheasant on it.

  144. I worked a that YMCA a couple years, and there was an 18 month old girl (who was quiet the spitfire) who always came dressed in boys clothes. Her dad bought her boys clothes and every time she showed up all the bittys in the day care had a conniption, when it was really non of their business. I always asked the bittys why it mattered so much, not one of them could give me a good answer.

  145. Amanda, let’s make a date when I can drive again!

  146. Amanda, Dante is their Godot.

  147. Now I’m answering things out of order, but in terms of Cassie’s character (and she my most beloved, after Amos): consider this. For those of you who have read ZIPPY and COUCH, I never knew Julie, the Little Red=Haired Girl after we turned eighteen. Think about that.

    And for me, Cassie’s silent care for everyone around her is the most heroic a person can be. I learned that from my mother. For many years she used to go in and pay for new eyeglasses for my Mom Mary, because MM couldn’t afford them. And the optometrist was sworn to never tell who did it. This is when we had nothing — I mean we had nothing. If there is something more admirable than that, I don’t know what it is.

  148. Also, my father? You didn’t DARE say you liked something in his house, because you’d find it wrapped in some beautiful old quilt in your car when you got home. He gave away more than he had, and he was a very taciturn man.

  149. The girl hood-surfing on the some of y’all’s covers is the paperback. As I’ve explained to Kate, I had no say over anything concerning the production of those books; they were sent to me as a fait accompli.

  150. George, it takes a damn good player to see that. The fact that pool is her vocation is no accident.

  151. Chip Gentry, hey, welcome. I’ve never listened to either of the two books of mine not read by me, because I read the Holy Crap out of a novel, trust me.

  152. Chip, by which I mean to say I’m bitter.

  153. pm rams: CROWN.

  154. Suzanne, I swear to god I’m going to start an entire thread dedicated to nothing but you and food.

  155. For the record, the one scene in the book that makes me cry EVERY TIME is when Cassie puts her hands on Edward’s shoulders and says, “Edward, you are my brother. I never thought I’d have a brother.” Look, I’m teary now. I wish I had a brother.

  156. I knew Matt when I was writing SRLS, so now that you mention, there could be a big slice of LOONY TUNES in my Puck.


    Whoever recognized Emmy in TUW, bravo.

  157. By the way, thank you for all who loved it. My whole heart is in that book (as it is in all of them) and it didn’t sell at all. I was so distraught by its failure (not for the money, but for Cassie) that I was tempted to send out a plea for everyone to please just go to amazon and buy five copies if they could afford it; everyone who knew me, everyone who loved me. But I’m not that kind of Quaker.

    p.s. I’ve noticed no takers on my taxidermy sale.

  158. Wait, I do have a brother. I have Wayne.

  159. Our Taxidermy isn’t selling either, neither are the $5 ornaments though. Actually nothing is selling. This is not good.

  160. George, the best compliment ever paid me by a reviewer was by Malcolm Jones in TIME; he ended a glowing review by saying, “If a novel were a game of pool, Haven Kimmel would run the table all night long.”

  161. VERY YUCK NEWS ALERT: Sunday’s event is a march for Get Out The Vote, with canvassing, and that is where my
    ‘star power’ would come in handy. Obama won’t be there, and neither shall I. I do not canvass. I am a loner.

  162. Dee, can you send me photographs of your taxidermy?

  163. i was sort of afraid of that, Haven. glad you found out. still a compliment, but canvassing is, indeed, yucky.

  164. We actually only have the Coyote and Pheasant present now, but yes I can send you pictures.

  165. Do, yes. As you may have heard, I’m a collector.

  166. Indiana Steph, there is sushi in Muncie? Do they get it from the White River?

  167. I’m speaking for Steph here, and I’m sure she will chime in later…

    Yes indeed they do have WONDERFUL sushi at a place in Muncie called DOMO. So far we have tried a handful of places in Indianapolis, and Dayton but the best has been in Muncie. Whou woulda thunk it? My posse went there last weekend without me and I still have not forgiven them.

  168. Taxidermy Request Alert:
    My office mate is interested in buying 2 ground squirrels….she is an old western re-enacter portraying a character called ‘squirrel tooth Alice’ I kid you not…a real woman who lived in Dodge City and once whipped the butt of a man who insulted one of her two pet ground squirrels that she kept on a leash. So Haven, if you have any ground squirrels you want to sell..I have a buyer for you…and I’ve been wanting to tell you about the poor black fox stole my brother and I saw in an antique mall in Charlottesville Virginia while I was visiting him (I know unstuffed does not qualify as taxidermy, but this thing had PERSONALITY!). Whoever had made this poor piece of clothing gave the face such a look of startled astonishment that I busted out laughing when I turned it over and my brother and I hooted and carried on all the way through the mall. I even carried it around for a while with an eye to actually buying it just for that expression. When we went back later in the day to buy it or at least take a picture, it was nowhere to be found. We figured that our extreme hilarity got the attention of the video security people and they must have removed it to uphold the dignity of the store. I’ve always regretted not buying it. Sigh.

  169. Brenda, one always regrets the things one doesn’t buy rather than the other around. That’s not entirely true but I live by it anyway.

    Brandon can tell you I bid for MONTHS on squirrels for him. But I’ll go see what I can do.

  170. Thank You!! We just googled ‘taxidermy ground squirrels’ and came up with a video on ebay on how to do it yourself! But Cheryl my offic mate says she would never speak to me again if I got that for her for Christmas. It must be a Fait Accompli real squirrel or faked stuff animal as a last resort.

  171. Margaret Atwood wrote a wonderful editorial this morning in the NY Times:

  172. What is this bull-roar about me being like Bobby Puck?

    I can’t say as I liked him much. I have known people like him.

    Haven did I ever tell you about what might be the Cistine Chapel of Novelty Taxidermy? In New Holland, Michigan. Little roadside tourist place. A guy I worked for once visited it. He said he felt somehow unclean after seeing it.

    Supposedly covered like 8 X 14 feet. Little Pews. Full of small animals, stuffed, all dressed in little clothes and hats.

    A wedding scene. Bride, groom, preacher, attendants,
    guests. Some of them were posed holding teeny-weeny hankees to their noses – you know, like people crying at a wedding.

    I wonder if it is still there. New Holland is the home of a tulip festival. About a thousand people put on wooden shoes, and do a sort of parade/dance/march, and clop clop clop in formation down the main street.

  173. OH MY GOSH!!! I had heard about the Tulip Fest, but NOTHING about a taxidermy museum.

    Must convince my dad to visit family during the Tulip Fest.

  174. Haven, you should go to Ole’s Big Game Bar out by Paxton, Ne.

    Ole shot every other creature that ever lived, and had them all stuffed and put in his bar. Like Noah’s Ark, only with a few minor differences.

    There was (about 1987) a stuffed baboon sitting on the bar, wearing sunglasses. Lots of people liked to pose for pictures with him, one arm around him.

    I’ll just bet his ghost is furious.

    I went there one time. Quite an experience. Once was probably enough. There were more polar bears than you’ve got hands and feet!

    I think it was maybe Balzac, I am not sure, anyway, whoever said this, once visited a brothel, then when he left said “Once a philosopher, twice a pervert.”

    I thought that was kind of funny.

  175. Bobby Puck was in no way based on Matt in Nebraska.

    There’s a part of me that enjoys novelty taxidermy, but mostly it makes my stomach turn. I only buy things that are preserved in such a way as to preserve their beauty and dignity. I love them, you know. I can’t mock them. Except for Cletus.

  176. Matt, You’re right about the Tulip Festival and the clomping but there is nothing new about Holland, Michigan. It’s just plain old Holland, full of Old Hollanders who vote for McCain. The good news is if you go a little bit south Saugatuck is loaded with gays.

    I have to drive to Holland every Wednesday for a class, but I have now idea where the place with the novelty taxidermy is….

  177. lord, haven… i went to the yahoo group and my god your family is gorgeous. all of them! your sister is beautiful, your children are beautiful, etc. etc. etc. (i love the pic of Obadiah with long hair!)

  178. I don’t know man, a little wedding scene. For me it’s less about the taxidermy and more about weird, quaint little tourist attractions.

  179. “If you loved me, you’d…” I’ve always thought everyone needs love shown in the way they recognize it (affection, caregiving, full attention (a rarity)). That love’s primary signifier for most anyone is encoded in how they themselves show love. You give love most often in the way you need it given to you. (Unless you already get what you need, then you can move on to what your loved ones need.)

    From the first page, I kept thinking, this girl is the world’s caretaker. Hungry, broke friends, she brings back groceries. Later that night, she has the same impulse for a group of starving strangers. She pays the bills. Gets rid of the dead groundhog (“Cassie was, at ten, a child who would have to learn to look away” hoo-boy, do I know that one). Halfway through, I’m still thinking that. She drives Emmy’s truck (dangerous, that) in hopes of getting it up to 200K as a gift to Emmy. It’s she who checks on Belle at school, not Laura. On and on. It is heroic that she continues to give love (what else can she do?) in the face of getting next to nothing in return.

    It’s pointless to ask for what you need if over and over it’s been made clear that the people you love are incapable of giving it. Being Jimmy’s “favorite” got her nothing, though she waited on that damn porch for years. She’s on the outside looking in with Laura and Belle. She’s nearly a cipher with her friends and family (witness the conversation with Belle where she is reeking of “war crime” and asking repeatedly for a change of clothes: Belle ignores her in favor of detail, please; Cassie, driving, asks Puck five times for a destination before getting an answer). I’ve rarely read a character who lived in more dire emotional poverty. Uncle Bud comes closest to seeing she is wasting away from lack of care, and actually does something about it, gives her a livelihood, gives her a mastery to be proud of, gives her simple attention.

    Is it too much to want to be seen?

    When she is, finally, “seen” — with Thomas — she opens up like she’s home.

    Her “aloofness” seems more like defense (I don’t need anything, anyone) than a deliberate or mindful rebuff or rejection. If someone’s been taught to need at her peril, it is self-preservation to take such a stance.

    One more thing, and this also speaks to Sher’s note of being the first one her family calls and the first they criticize: when all the giving is on one side, those on the receiving side get…well, entitled. Entitled unto resentment. The way Laura and Belle, the cult of two, shut Cassie out, puts me in mind of this dynamic. Though for Laura’s part, that seems to be in response to one daughter seeming to need her more than the other.

    SRLS is so dense — with beauty and meaning and how love works — not a wasted word. I’ll be mining it for its insights for years — most of it in the “Laura would have said…” notes throughout the book. This book is absolutely dear to me.

  180. *(entitlement and its accompanying resentment a scrim for the embarrassment of needing too much.)

  181. The first time I read this I didn’t get the title.

    DUH! It’s her SOUL!

  182. You know what else what so accurate and terrible? Puck’s reaction to Cassie leaving. He is capable of so much more, but he is just sewn to that SPOT.

  183. Carrie writes:
    Is it too much to want to be seen?

    To which I would say:
    Hell know! Many, many more people I have talked to wanted to TELL me something than wanted a request granted. I guess I look like a good listener.

    Haven: My 9 yr. old wrote a wonderfull essay on animals complete with illustrations. It is one page long.

    Warning, reading it may make for happy weepage.

    Exhuberant, utterly unafraid to fail, it is like seeing God as a child waking up and sowing otters and walruses onto the sea. It reminds me of seeing her as a baby, running right into into a flock of geese that were lounging by a lake, they exploded, startled and flying and honking.

    And then she hollared; “AGAIN!”

    I can scan it and email it but do not know where to.

  184. To relieve our literary intensity, I have a new “fart” story (which my personal trainer heard from this salesperson):

    A lady visits New York City and is lured into Tiffany’s by the robin’s egg blue and glitter she knows she can’t afford, but wants to “look”.

    She goes right in and heads for a case storing gorgeous necklaces – she bends over from the waist to look closely and “TOOTS”. Terrified, she backs up and runs directly into the crotch of a salesperson who was unfortunately standing directly behind her.

    She is very flustered and asks to see the necklace in an effort to mollify her embarrassed.

    The salesperson looks down his nose at her and says:

    “Madam, if the mere act of looking at it made you fart, the price would make you shit your pants!”

  185. This really happened to me:

    My frilly little princess, aged about 3 and in her “only wearing twirly skirts, tiaras, and pink cowboy boots, simultaneously” phase) was sitting at the table drawing.

    She ripped a good one! Loud and Long!

    I asked, “Lauren Nicole, did you toot?!!!”

    She said, “NO, I FARTED!!!”

  186. Oh, Matt – you can scan it and email mail it to me and I will post it on the Yahoo site, or we can set up a website link via shutterfly – it takes like 5 minutes! I love kids’ writing and illustrations – sounds fab!

  187. Cassie’s stoicism is definately a defense mechanism . . . I never viewed it as anything but. Re her rage (for instance, throwing rocks at the trailer of her father’s girlfriend, hitting her in the eye, etc.) – I think that that was the only way she COULD get Jimmy’s attention. It was her way of being “Seen” at the time. Also, she is declaring to him – “You Asshole, I want you to KNOW that I Know you are an Asshole!” And to the girlfriend, same thing “I want you to know I Know you are a father stealing, husband stealing, son stealing THIEF”

    Uh, just my opinion.


    if the commenters’ name is highlighted in PINK/BURGUNDY it means you can click on their name and be taken directly to there website/blog/e-mail contact information . . .

  189. …total idiot here, it could be any other color, and I meant “their” link, not there – I hate blogging for spelling and mistakes…

  190. Haven it is my mission in life to connect your books with characters slipping in and out – I actually squealed with joy when I recognized Emmy in Used World and it so RIGHT ON with her predictable life path I was sad . . . Dixie Chicks . . . my friends from high school, live in the same zip codes that their parents did . . .

    Also, what do you (and others) think of your KINDLE books, I am reluctant because I love to highlight and flag and to see my friends up on the shelf . . . but love the idea of the built-in thesarus (plus you can blog on it!!!! Holy Moly!!!

  191. Oh Carrie, what you wrote is so beautiful I’m teary for the second or third time today. (Brandon also made me cry today, with a sweet sad story he told me.) And then I was giving my red coyote Beauty Parlor and I felt something in his side and I moved the fur aside and thought, “Is that a bullet hole?” Because generally I only buy things that have died in other ways. For instance, my very favorite taxidermy store only taxidermies things that die of natural causes; little ones that don’t make it or are rejected by their mamas, that kind of thing. Sometimes they come across an animal that’s been hit but shows no external damage, and this is their way of honoring it. (This coyote didn’t come from there.) I don’t know if it was a bullet hole — all wild animals are scraped up and scarred from fighting, but I literally sat back hard on my butt and started to cry. I could only think, please please please no, please don’t let anyone have shot this animal, please.

    I need the forgiveness scrim for going on too long, I’m sorry.

    Carrie, did you make the bracelet? GAWD, it’s not like I’ve been waiting all day to find out.

  192. For the record, I pity Laura with all my heart. Listen to Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans one time and you’ll know why. Not to mention her marriage. I’m not saying she didn’t fail her daughters, and I showed that she did, but I feel for her, too.

  193. I said earlier that the scene that always made me cry was at the end, but this one made my heart ache writing it, too:


    They sat in silence. Laura smoked, Cassie let her head fall back against the couch. She wanted to say to Laura, Please, explain to me how you withstand this diminishing. Their house had become dense with absences. Buena Vista in her casket — Cassie could still see her so clearly, with her thin white hair combed out against the satin pillow. Poppy had put on her reading glasses because they made her look dignified. And there was a moment when Buena’s toothbrush went missing from the bathroom, and her dentures cream, the special comb she used because she was tender-headed. The Jimmy, his breath mints, his razor, his dancing glide through the kitchen on the way to the refrigerator. He’d grown up in this house. Gone. Belle. Cassie massaged her temples. And now, of all things, Juanita, the black dog. An inoperable tumor had grown into her jaw. Cassie had taken her that morning to be put down, then brought her back and buried her behind Poppy’s trailer, next to Roger. Poppy was inconsolable and wouldn’t leave the Airstream. Only Marleybone remained, a dog as tough as whit leather, but old himself, and there was nothing Cassie could do. Nothing could slow down the arrow shot through their lives. “I should change clothes and head on,” Cassie said.

    Laura looked up over the top of her glasses, smiled at Cassie. “Be careful. There are haints abroad tonight.”

  194. See that first sentence above? “They sat in silence.” That’s what I mean about editing each sentence by 10%, a la Stephen King.

  195. There was this time I was going through photographs, and every image brought up loss. “…dense with absences…” when I read that line, so soon after a roundhouse like “…how you withstand this diminishing” — I tell you, if Cassie hadn’t finally found Thomas… God, I’m so glad she left that mire. I’m so glad she took Uncle Bud. I cared about these characters like they were cherished friends.

  196. I did make all the beads in that composite, and the bracelets. They’re pretty, huh? The one in the upper right is my first completed bracelet. If only I could have a studio (if only I could cut holes in my walls and keep explosives on my terrace).

  197. I wrote this after reading about Laura. It’s a little different take on the idea of “mother as victim,” and is not about Laura.

    Your history is a sad one, but you succumbed to it. You inflicted it on
    every one of us. No more. I cannot give you any more of my life, for you
    to lash out against. When I feel the tug to phone you, I bring to mind the
    many times you flung your anger at me because you could not own it. How you
    continue to refuse to see your history and blame the world. My family and I
    will no longer bear witness to you.

    If you ever wanted healing you have gone past it. You own your anger and
    wear it like a banner. It’s all you have. You had no true marriage, no
    children who needed you in a healthy way. There is no “you”; there is only
    smoke and mirrors. Have you ever truly known joy or known what you want?
    You are a willing victim and use your victimization against us all.

    Sixty-five years is a long time to live without love for yourself. You
    have worn out your own heart, although the rest of you seems strong.

    I am, I was your salvation. You cannot see me, as I always knew. In my
    birth was your obituary, and you spent your life railing against it. Loving
    and hating me. Your hands clenched into tight fists, which you wielded
    unexpectedly and hatefully. I was born to be another victim, and I was. I
    was. But I’ve gone past you, I’ve left you behind and you cannot forgive

    The many wounds you opened in me have healed, scarred over. I see the white
    lines on my flesh and feel – nothing. It is a gift of nature that, once
    healed, scarred places often have less feeling.

    Even pity for you is nearly gone. You gave me life to use as you saw fit.
    I rescued myself from your plan after decades of abuse. Until you or I are
    dead (and who knows what happens after that) I can feel no true release.
    While you and I are still here, I let you go. I will not draw you to me. I
    no longer want to. So many opportunities for you, squandered. When I
    invited you in, you brought anger. You are no longer invited.

    I feel release, knowing I have escaped your clutches. There was only loss
    in my time with you. Food, water, and loss. My eyes are open, and finally
    I see you and me and my family and you are not them.

    All life is a lesson, and perhaps you have been one of my greatest. I have
    learned so much from being your daughter. I am not
    sorry. I am not staying.

  198. That last para was like a boulder dropped on my chest. Breathtaking, Jodi.

  199. Carrie,

    Your 3:43 pm posting is, to me, what this blog is all about: perception, and fine writing expressing that perception. I especially loved this thought of yours:

    ” … of being the first one her family calls and the first they criticize: when all the giving is on one side, those on the receiving side get…well, entitled. Entitled unto resentment. The way Laura and Belle, the cult of two, shut Cassie out …”

    I believe it was The Cowardly Lion who said, “Ain’t it the truth! Ain’t it the truth!” When Laura and Belle NEED, Cassie gets her dancing shoes out and tap-tap-taps her heart out trying to please them. And the truth is — They Will Never Be Pleased. The only thing Cassie could do was shake the dust from her feet. And what happens when she re-claims her life in New Orleans and returns for a last visit? Voila! Belle has found a new and willing victim in Edwin. In my reading, Belle’s copious tears are tears of guilt — perhaps not a guilt she sees clearly, but one she very clearly FEELS, about her “use” of Cassie.

  200. Jodi: tears FOUR times. That’s not a record by the way. I cry when the sun goes down.

    Carrie, please do not be so enigmatic with your mystery responses wrapped in bacon. IS THE BRACELET FOR SALE? Do I need to be more capitalistic and mercenary? Must I do something humiliating?

    Jodi again: Flawless ending. Thank you.

  201. Bacon! — I don’t sell the lampworked bead bracelets, as I have limited means to make them, and I haven’t yet made bracelets for all my friends. You cannot buy one. I will, however — by virtue of your having created this community and forum which regularly makes me do spit takes and/or cry and has attracted the most talented and insightful of writers — gift you with one. You just may have to wait a bit. But then you will have forgotten you asked, and it will be a surprise.

    Write me and we’ll talk measurements and address.

  202. Oh, Carrie and Haven. Thank you for the compliments.

  203. Jodi, I’m of two minds about Belle. She badly used Cassie, but I’m not sure she was capable of more.

    Funny story. Okay it’s not funny. My mother was born three months prematurely. As a child she was ‘slow’, subject to fainting spells, and easily frightened. My grandmother tried to make everything easier for her by doing her homework, shielding her, and never demanding anything from her. Today my mother is utterly self-absorbed and unable to interact meaningfully with the world beyond her life with my father.

    I’d like to resent her, but God knows she’s just making her way the only way she knows how. Just like Belle. And don’t think for a minute that Edwin doesn’t know what he’s taking on. Edwins and Belles always find one another.

  204. Jodi. Thank you. For all you write, but this one I’m saving.

  205. Amy, oh lord, you are so spot on. I can testify to one of these situations. Not my mother, but in my family. She does the best she can, making her way the only way she knows how, and leaks resentment from every pore of how I’ve made my way, but still wants a relationship, wants closeness. I do what I can, the best I can.

  206. Amy and Carrie,

    You are good-hearted, both of you, and wise. Seeing that Those Women in your lives are “making their way the only way they know how.”

    Amy, you’re right about Belle. Beautifully said. “Edwins and Belles always find one another.”

  207. Haven,

    Are you getting enough rest and good things to eat? Don’t MAKE me stop this car, girlfriend. You take care of you, and consider toddling off to bed soon. Jesus loves you and so do I.

  208. You’ll love this. I told my doctor yesterday that I was having a hard time sleeping and he prescribed this new drug? And it was essentially a roofie. Not that I’ve ever had a roofie. He told me to take it and go right to bed. But instead I took it and realized I hadn’t eaten anything, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO ONE TO FEED ME, so I cooked god knows what and ate it, and then couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get up, and when I finally did I fell about fourteen times. I finally took ahold of Iorek’s collar and he led me toward the bedroom, and when I fell in the doorway, he very gently took ahold of the back of my shirt and tried to lift me. I fell asleep in my pants with my knife in my pocket. I called the doctor and he said, “Break it in half tonight.” I said, “Oh no, thanks. That was such fun I’ll just go ahead and take the whole thing and see if I can break off my entire face.”

  209. Sweet, sweet Iorek. How can this be? If you are going to chance being alone, you must have MREs, a walker, and one of those necklace pagers! Land sakes.

  210. Carrie, send me your address again?



  212. Haven if you need a life I don’t even know what it is I need.

  213. I have been reading and reading all of your comments, and I just had to skip down to get my say in.

    Cassie is not mean, and if she were a man, she WOULD never in a million years be like Jimmy. Jimmy is the ANTI-Cassie. She knows what it means to buckle yourself in for the whole damn ride; understands that Belle has prior claim to her love (especially after Laura…….doesn’t go to New Orleans–was that vague enough?) Jimmy never understood a damned thing but what HE wanted, what HE needed. He didn’t deserve a single one of the women in his life, and I am certain that Cassie, had she been a man would have been WALT BRAVERMAN who just gets up everyday and does his job (though he doesn’t like it) because it’s what he has to do to take care of his family. End of Story.

    Someone–I am so sorry, I’m not sure who now–thought the hedgehog scene was laugh out loud funny. I was CRUSHED reading that. I was so angry for Cassie that she had no one, NO ONE to help her carry the burden I then realized would fall SQUARELY on her shoulders. I flat out wept when I read that line on paper back p. 27 “Cassie was, at ten, a child who would have to learn to look away.” I’m almost in tears now rereading it.

    Cassie loves so fiercely but she doesn’t know how SAY that love…so she shows it. She shows it by paying the electric bill, buying food for her friends, freeing the dog, by NOT telling Belle everything that had gone down with Jimmy the night she won the cue (though I think being 100% honest there would NOT have hurt Belle and would have helped Cassie).

    I think Cassie is angry at everything she ought to have had–not materialisticly (did I just make up a new word?!?!) but emotionally, spiritually. She has learned to do without (to look away from) the things she–every person–needs: most especially to be known. Thank God she finds Thomas (oh and isn’t he a special secret! LOVE YOU, HAVEN KIMMEL!!!)

    Then again on p. 129 “Cassie rubbed her forehead. How could she ever explain to Laura that hearing this story still caused a shimmer in her belly, she was STILL afraid that Jimmy would leave and she’s lose her family even so long after he’d left and she’d lost.”

    Those words hurt to read.

    As for Laura’s holy light, well, God. I never knew how to explain that feeling, that CERTAINTY (wish I had italics rather than caps here)until I read that. If you’re unfamiliar or forgetful, it starts on p. 51. I think I mentioned it earlier, but I had to write my own essay based off this idea. It’s so beautiful and hurtful and awful and terrific. It’s not false of self-deluding; it’s just true.

    Someone else said they thought this was the bleakest of Haven’s books. Good golly, no. Oh Lord no. At the end? With the lawyer? And the call to Bud? I cried there too.

    THANK YOU, Haven, for this book. SCREW the public that didn’t like it. They’re stupid and they suck. This book is a LIGHT to me, and if anything or anyone can, Cassie represents acting on the Lure to Goodness, Truth and Beauty. Her skills, so sharply honed, are (I imagine) gorgeous and concise and spare. There’s no bullshit to her. None. She is only herself. Damaged, flawed, but trying. She is at least TRYING to be herself, her best self, and she will achieve it. Absolutely she will.

  214. Haven, you crack me up: “I was giving my red coyote Beauty Parlor …”

    I’m really fascinated that you said, “For the record, I pity Laura with all my heart.” It shows me that a reader brings all her own experience to anything she reads and considers. A question for you about Laura: is she based on someone(s) you knew, or is she a character you engineered? My own take on Laura is so different from yours. She’s a combination of women I’ve known, and unlike you, I have no sympathy for her missing her own life. While she was killing herself chain-smoking, she was killing her daughters with the smoke. While she was blaming the world for her victimization, she could not consider the harm she was inflicting on everyone she knew and was, as a mother and wife, responsible for. I get that she was sad and full of regret. Perhaps if she had not had children she might have had a chance at her own life. But she did have children, and as you point out with Jung and Freud, Billy and Colt, in having a son a father writes his own obituary. So does a mother. When you look at your own children, could you yourself do what Laura did? Could you become so mired in your own self-pity? No, you, Haven Kimmel, could not. You love too much. But Laura’s children were not Laura’s world, and Laura lived in Laura’s Dream World that never would have, or could have, existed. And for that I’d (pardon me, O Great Creator of Laura) like to bitch-slap her repeatedly. Belle, the oldest, absorbed Laura’s sorrow to her own demise. Cassie took on the role of father to Laura and Belle.

    Thanks, Ms. K., for beautiful writing that allows for so much contemplation.

  215. Huzzah!

    I have a new newphew! George Marshall is his name. He is about 7 lbs and likes to sleep a lot.

    Also: an enormous sow-coon came into my yard and fought with my dog Felix, and his dog-wife Ava. Luckilly there were no injuries.

    Haven, I sent you a post back on October 04 about an encounter with a badger. It happened the week that Star Trek (the one with Spock, Kirk, Bones, etc) premiered. I know this because there was a TV Guide
    in the vehicle that said so. “Dad, what is P-R-E-M-I-E-R?” I said. This was ignored, as he was having words with said badger. I don’t know if you ever saw the comment, as I managed to send it to an older post
    somehow. Someday I will figure this bloggery out.

  216. I wouldn’t be so hard on Laura. She was blinded by what she thought was “holy light,” when it was really the glare of the kitchen window. It paralyzed her.

    I had a mother who was so afraid of living in poverty that she sacrificed herself and her children and she stayed married to an asshole for 30 years. I was angry with her for many years, especially after I had my own child. I couldn’t understand how she could turn away from the abuse and the flat out mean-spiritedness and do nothing. It took me many years of long discussions with my mentor to understand she did the best she could with what she had. She can only use what she was given which wasn’t much. She became a teenage mother (she had three kids by 19) to run away the life she had been given. By the fourth marriage (the asshole) I guess she decided to settle with at least we have a nice home, food, and things.

  217. Haven, honey, I AM gonna have to stop this car. Yes, ma’am, it’s a very funny story (“I called the doctor and he said, “Break it in half tonight.” I said, “Oh no, thanks. That was such fun I’ll just go ahead and take the whole thing and see if I can break off my entire face.”) but poor Iorek can’t take care of you. As Cassie says about Weeds, it’s “too much for his sweet shoulders to bear.” But then, Iorek IS almost a bear, isn’t he? GET SOME REAL FOOD! CALL 911 and order some sushi.

  218. Congratulations Matt!

  219. My mother has been married to my father for 34 years. He is…Asperger’s Syndrome personified. 8 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with MS, and it seemed to go okay; my parents made it work. But she has been in a a wheel chair for a few years now…and on Friday, my dad just walked out. Said he needed to take care of himself too (his health is also very poor.) and left me holding the bag. I spent last weekend telling my mother we (my sister, who’s 1000 miles away, and I, though we have 2 bros) would fix it…but do you know what Mama said, basically? It was Buena Vista’s cry to Laura: what about my pots and pans?

    My mother is Laura, minus the cigarettes.

    As a side note–my father came back this week, not because (I think) he loves my mother, but because HIS pots and pans are here.

    I learned very early that I would have to know how to look away.

    I have sympathy for Laura’s position. I don’t think my mother has damaged me at the level of instinct, but there are times when I have some considerable doubts.

  220. Lightening bug, my heart goes out to you. What times these are for you.

  221. Lightning Bug,

    Re: “Someone–I am so sorry, I’m not sure who now–thought the hedgehog scene was laugh out loud funny. I was CRUSHED reading that.”

    I’ve lived most of my life in northeastern Indiana, and here in the backwoods, nobody thinks a thing of burying a groundhog. (Not a hedgehog, as you called it. Here in Indiana we buy those at petshops and keep them in our homes.) I don’t agree with this kind of behavior, but groundhogs here are shot for fun and draped on fenceposts. They are killed by dogs and buried in fields and then dug up by dogs and re-buried. Did you read Haven’s real-life account of burying a groundhog? I’ll bet (back me up here, Ms. K) that the only tears Zippy shed as her horrid sister Melinda forced her to roll the swollen groundhog across the fields were tears of rage. We Hoosiers think nothing of dead bloated groundhogs. Sorry if that makes you sad, but that’s just nature out here in the sticks.

  222. Matt — a big old congratulations on your nephew! Cigars all around?

    And Haven, I kept getting undeliverable on that address, so I sent a mail via your havenblogbabies yahoo group email. (You can also send mails to any member of that group from there, including me myself.)

  223. Oh, Lightning Bug. The difference between the right word and the wrong word is you and your father. I can barely stomach this.

    And Jodi, you are so right about the groundhog. I’ve buried many a dead thing in my life, but never one so damn stubborn.

  224. Dee, no wonder you are the way you are. You turned that straw into gold.

  225. Carrie–thank so much. I’m the only child within 800 miles. Besides love anyway, it’s hard to know what to do.

    Jodi–I live in the sticks too. 🙂 Fairly rural GA. I’ll never forget Haven’s description of the deer being drained in TSOLE because it’s an exact match for so many so many Saturday and Sunday mornings at my parents’ house. And hearing Haven’s real life version re: the groundhog was not so bad. Having read Zippy and SGUOTC, it made me laugh to think of Melinda doing it. But something in the telling with Cassie made it so hard to read. Hard to explain. But I do think that it is the “hard to explain-ness” that makes all of Haven’s books so incredible.

  226. Haven, you got me crying again. Thank you. That might be the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me.

  227. I’ve been having crying jags all day long, since I finished TUW this morning. I can’t even respond with a blog entry like I normally do. I begin to express, yet, what that book means to me. I’ll need several days of withdrawal, and another thread. 🙂

  228. Lightning Bug,

    Yes about the groundhog. Yes about Haven’s writing.

    Stand firm in defense of your own life, in the face of your parents’ decisions. You already know that, but you’re in the eye of the storm right now. That makes everything spin around you. You gave the answer yourself: “I learned very early that I would have to know how to look away.” I’ve been in similar storms, and I’m here to tell you: You Are Right. Open your hand and allow them to walk their own paths. You did not start their fire.

  229. But who will put it out?

  230. add a “can’t” between I and begin please.

  231. You are wonderful people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  232. HK, this will probably sound crazy, but driving through Mooreland today, it looked *exactly* the same as when I went through last year. Hmmm. 🙂

    Actually, since the corn’s in, it’s less claustrophobic. Ok, just a little less.

    It was a bit surreal driving through there today while listening to Iodine on CD. It was like you were a tour guide narrating the landscape. So many of the yards look just like Candy’s. And it was gray and cold, so it reflected the mood of the early parts of the book.

  233. Matt — all those people wanting to tell you something — guarantee you they are telling you the story because they think it says something about them. They want to be seen, and in the way they see themselves, their own best selves.

  234. JohnM, it looks exactly the same as when I moved away.

  235. Lightning bug this is all getting too familiar. I am from California and I can barely look at roadkill. The other day it was a kitten for goodness sakes. I wish I could find that original taxidermy post and read it again. I know people have to hunt and kill things and that Ted Nugent is probably more admirable than even the “free range” chicken farms we have here in Petaluma, but the first time I traveled out of C. and saw at the local store a picture of a hunter holding a five point stag that was obviously in the throes of death with the biggest grin on his face I could have swooned. I thought the number one rule of hunting was to make it swift and humane and not to let the animal suffer. Silly me. And that rabbit head made me put down Zippy. I don’t know if I can ever pick it up again. It got me back to the six year old me and I ran for the hills. Of course that was the day the family dog died so I had to suck it up and dig a grave and try not to cry. Now I will get off the cross because I know you all need the wood. And I think I am hijacking all the comments. Sorry.

  236. I should have said, by the antlers. And the hunter was grinning not the stag, whose face remains frozen in my memory still twenty odd years later.. Or as Jeff Buckley said He’s “A tear that hangs within my soul forever…” Or to be more precise: Looking out the door I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
    Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water
    And maybe Im too young to keep good love from going wrong
    But tonight youre on my mind so you never know

    When Im broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed it
    Where are you tonight, child you know how much I need it
    Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run

    Sometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his fun
    And much too blind to see the damage hes done
    Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no-one

    So Ill wait for you… and Ill burn
    Will I ever see your sweet return
    Oh will I ever learn

    Oh lover, you shouldve come over
    cause its not too late

    Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in
    Burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him
    My body turns and yearns for a sleep that will never come

    Its never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
    Its never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
    Its never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
    Its never over, shes the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

    Well maybe Im just too young
    To keep good love from going wrong

    Oh… lover, you shouldve come over
    cause its not too late

    Well I feel too young to hold on
    And Im much too old to break free and run
    Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage Ive done
    Sweet lover, you shouldve come over
    Oh, love well Im waiting for you

    Lover, you shouldve come over
    cause its not too late

  237. Dorian, John does a cover of that song. It’s gorgeous.

    Many people took issue with the scene with the rabbits in ZIPPY. But it was simply the truth. Imagine how it felt to a six-year-old child? I was just standing in the yard, on my way to church, trying to understand what I was seeing.

    If I may say one more thing, and this isn’t directed at you, Dorian, it’s directed at our country as a whole, particularly the well-to-do. We all have little strokes of compassion at the death of an animal, even one stillborn or hit by a car, which is unfortunate and sad, and everyone seems to take a great big righteous position about their dogs being their babies and how they would never even LOOK at taxidermy (except in a natural history museum, where, well isn’t THAT interesting?), but I NEVER heard such a hue and cry over the fact that there is an average of 15,000 domestic murder/suicides in this country, in which the husband (it is statistically by far the husband) kills his wife, often his children, and then himself. We don’t mention how we all feel faint about children who are born with what is commonly known as bird-headed dwarf condition, or inner city children who climb ten flights of stars in the dark because the lights are out and the elevators don’t work, or the men in prison my mother teaches who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole at the age of FIFTEEN for being present at a capital crime, whether they were holding or firing a weapon. I don’t hunt, I’ve never killed an animal in my life, but for the love of god, the rabbits with their ears stapled to the side of the barn died with very little difference than the ones held down on a tree-stump and decapitated, and forgive me, but if you eat meat or wear leather, you are participating in a nightmare of ungodly proportions.

    There, that is my rant for the day.

    p.s. I hate hunters too. That’s why I’m careful about what I collect.

  238. Haven, I’ve started this post over and over 15 times trying to find the right words – I have always, always struggled with this issues you refer to – animals dying on the side of the road, hunting, abuses in the farming industry, my prison students and the ugliness of inequity in people’s lives. And you have miraculously addressed it in a way that not only makes sense to me, but also in a way that describes beautifully why I don’t eat meat, and do all the things many other people think are nutty – feed stray animals, get feral cats neutered, honk my car horn like a lunatic where I know hunters are, and support humane farming orgnanizations. I’ve been struggling with these things recently, and I guess serendipity or fate being what it is, you’ve addressed it, and helped me feel better about these things that make my heart heart. And I wanted you to know that I appreciate that. Thank you for sharing your wisdom – it makes a difference.

  239. I’m immediately going to re-read this book with the idea of Julie as Cassie. As soon as I read that, my eyes filled with tears; I don’t know why. They’ve been doing that lately. I did get a Zippy-ish feel in several parts and thought I was just overreaching, so glad to know I was on the right track.

    That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever SEEN a novel as clearly as I do Something Rising. It’s a hard feeling to describe, because of course I always imagine the worlds I’m reading about, but it’s like the imagery and reality of this place surrounded me in an entirely new way. I could see everything. Just as in Solace, certain passages literally knocked the breath out of me because of their familiarity — I think and feel these things every day but am usually powerless to articulate them. Laura’s holy light speech… Yes. That’s all. YES. Specific images: the woman and the horse, the buzzard, the river, the dogs, Puck, Emmy’s home, Laura on the bus, the diner in New Orleans, the clown, Thomas’s shed, the truck, the kitchen… Oh my. It was just all so concrete and familiar, like a dream I’ve had before and couldn’t remember. And when we found out that Thomas was Taos, I cried with such happy abandon that I had to put the book away for a bit. And the last line…ahhhhh. I don’t have my copy with me, so these nonspecific ramblings will have to suffice.

  240. Steph in IN, I have struggled with them my whole life, as someone who, as I’ve pointed out before, told my Sunday School teacher I loved animals more than God.

  241. Kimberly, you are a great, great reader. You are a DREAM for an author. In fact, I may from this point on write all my books as if you’re standing behind me reading them.


  242. Haven, I remember reading your saying that in an interview or somehting, I and I knew immediately we shared that important quality! My friends think Scott and I are crazy because we have raccoon parties on our deck – we put out bananas and marshmallows, and the raccoons that live in the woods behind our back yard come up and have a grand time. They are animated and beautiful, especially the babies, and we love watching them. One – Roscoe, who is a girl (we didn’t realize her gender until she gave birth – the name stuck) will take food out of our hands. We love them!! I could never imagine hunting or eating an animal. It turns my stomach. I know you understand, and I love that! 🙂

  243. Well, I for one kill mosquitoes, fleas and ticks with reckless abandon. And I eat chicken (and fish) for goodness sake, I try to do free range but it really is a meaningless distinction. The only thing I can say in my defense is that maybe I could kill one with my own two hands because in Kauai the roosters are like roving alarm clocks gone mad and I am a bit of an insomniac. They would probably be inedible but I bet they would look gorgeous stuffed. One of my favorite people, Ginger had her prize bantam rooster stuffed because she loved him dearly and he was gorgeous and even I can not deny that. And I was one of the only people she showed him to because she knew I would know the intent and not think she was crazy. I love the natural history museums. I love Suzanne. I don’t know why she thinks I can sleep. I live in an 756 square foot apartment with a husband who snores like a grizzly on steroids even with that little strippy thing across his nose. I wish the bathtub was more comfortable and that I had had the common sense to get an ipod so I could just fall asleep to my incredible collection of music. I wish I could here John’s version of that song. He must be brilliant to attempt that one. Love, D

  244. Oh and Haven, the kids who suffer cleft pallet and the lost boys of the Sudan and all those Children in Gaza. My heart aches. I just have faith that we all agreed to participate in this bizarre puppet show and that there is a reason. I guess it is because of Many Lives, Many Masters, that Brian Wiess book, I am going to make less and less sense so I will just end there.

  245. I say this in a voice of honest questioning rather than pot-stirring or boat rocking…but what about abortion? And I’ll be specific: abortion as birth control. I’m not talking about a girl/woman who’s raped/victim of incest etc. I just mean the kind of abortion where “it’s inconvenient right now” or “this child has a disability.” Where’s the hue and cry for those babies?

  246. Not that anyone asked me, like any other “hot-button” issue, my stance on abortion is – Mind your own F’n business!

  247. Always a good stance to take. 🙂

  248. If you want to talk about injustice then let’s talk about the death penalty.

  249. Dorian, I know, I know, I agree with everything you’ve said here — it’s as if suffering of all kinds, human, animal, is too much to take in; we can only measure it in doses and do the best we can to not contribute. And as a confession, I nearly have a heart attack of grief when trees are cut down. I KNOW they are alive. I KNOW they are sentient, I can feel it. I don’t think I’m crazy — well, yes, I do — but I swear it’s one of the most horrible sights in the world to me.

    p.s. Please forgive me for killing that evil, evil rooster at the farm where I grew up. He attacked me every day and one day I’d had enough and hit him in the head with a wiffle ball bat. I thought, “Wiffle ball! It’s filled with air!” Turns out old Red didn’t have so much air in his noggin either. RIP, you old sumbitch.

  250. Lightning Bug, my position on abortion is very simple: if it weren’t legal we would be living a national nightmare of astonishing proportions. That doesn’t make it easy for almost any woman, I would guess, but it is necessary and it’s going to happen, legal or not. But I also agree with Linda. It is not philosophically or logically possible to oppose legalized abortion and be in favor of the death penalty. Any country that allows its government to execute its own citizens is participating in the most primitive and pernicious form of evil we are capable of as a democracy.

    I swore I’d never take political positions on this blog, but then as a Quaker I can’t really swear anywhere, so there you go.

  251. *The thing that really makes the steam start shooting out my ears is – the same people who go on and on and on about abortion have no problem sending their children and grand children off to die in Iraq.

  252. Oh and one issue voters really piss me off.

    >>> back to minding my ow business.

  253. Trees are most definitely sentient. Just ask one.

  254. My brother was terrified of the rooster that lived at my Grandpa’s farm near Folsomville, Ind.

    That gave me endless ammunition to make his life a living hell.

    One year, when he was about five, our parents gave him a farm set for Christmas.

    He took a look at it and then gave out the most blood-curdling shriek that has ever been loosed from a human being on a Christmas Day for there was a plastic rooster in the barnyard animal collection.

    Me, knowing all the secrets of the house, knew that my parents would never, ever throw away a brandnew thing. So, about a week later, when everyone was sitting around watching television I went scrounging into the kitchen cabinets where I knew hidden things were stashed. There, of course, in a Maxwell House coffee can along with a zillion pennies, some buttons, a few nuts and bolts and a couple of penknives, I found the rooster…

    It was the most powerful voodoo I ever discovered in my childhood. I seldom had to display it…my brother knew I had it and for a few weeks obeyed my every command.

    It disappeared from my sock drawer in February or March. And it stayed disappeared for years.

    But then, somewhere in 1966 or 1967, it made a comeback when my Mom started watching children full-time and retired toys in the garage were pressed back into service.

    My brother wasn’t afraid of anything then — living, dead, or in between. He was just easily disgusted. And the mere sight of mashed potatoes, or green beads similar to the ones he once shoved up his nose, of the sight of me wearing a t-shirt were among the things he could gag on.

    I wore a t-shirt to bed every night.

  255. baaaaaaaaaaaaghhldskhaahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa

    ha haa ha ha ha

    Plastic Rooster he says!



  256. George, I know I could be reading 7,000 wrong things in that story, but I do believe you and I should have a long talk about brothers someday. Not my good brother, my brother-in-law, Wayne. The other kind.

  257. Haven –

    I made a few notes on Something Rising . . .

    I have to give many hoorah’s for:

    “he was her new-found land”
    You are the queen, even above Toni Morrison, who penned “she rode off on black Nightmare”, my former favorite wordplay.

    Also –

    Laura’s childhood dog was named milkWEED!
    Hello! Yippee!

    I haven’t figured out the meaning of Themis’ name . . . I totally get his time machine though.

    Tip my hat to:

    ” . . . spirits keep quoting Rilke.”

    The spirits speak to me in Rilke, I can’t feel more spiritually entwined than that.

    Then to follow:

    . . . you are an orphaned child . . . but most of us are, and our only hope is to recognize it and CLING TO ONE ANOTHER AS BEST WE CAN . . . ”

    So, Blog Babies, that wording above, encompasses all that I feel about this blog and the individual, beautiful souls I have encountered here.

    I’m emotionlessly maudlin’ tonight.

  258. Additional, SRLS observations . . .

    1. the description of Laura & Jimmy (pg 206 of pb) reminded me so much of Augusten’s parents as revealed in A Wolf At The Table.

    2. I am having a hard time accepting Jimmy. It is obvious he was a handsome, charasmatic man. He reminds my of my paternal grandfather, formerly of Roachdale, IN, where he swears he was the ‘godfather’ there – i.e., hid Dillinger in his barn, manufactured all the weapons which won WWII, his ego is MONUMENTAL. No, MEGALITHIC. And, he dressed just as debonaur as Jimmy, and JINGLED HIS CHANGE IN HIS POCKETS (he actually got kicked off the golf course at the World tourney (I don’t know golf terminology and Donny is slumbering) in Orlanda FL for doing that (he was lurking behind my aunt’s bushes on the fairway. To me that energy was talent wasted. It is something I struggle with, as you mention on pg. 207 (of pb) . . . what of your healthy measure of God’s gifts are you responsible for using . . .

    3. Threes: 3 towers (pg 201), 33 years worth of longing redeemed (205), the dream about a trinity (pg 73-74), Poppy’s 3 dogs,

    4. Motherhood defined: one place in your heart and another in your life. Both of these forces are equal, I still struggle day-by-day to balance these tidal pulls.

    )+++this might be a spoiler alert if you haven’t read THE USED WORLD))(__+++++

    5. Leroy and Misty’s missing baby – is this the baby Claudia rescues?

  259. For God’s Gracious Sake – I left Something Rising at the Orthodontist’s office this morning . . . where I live these days . . .

    In any event (IAE), I tagged all these lovely


    Haven referrs many times to swallowing stones, carrying seeds, a baby . . . it was so lovely to carress this little puzzle piece . . . and to her (cassie) being just a seed at the time of her mother’s busride . . .

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