Eagle Nest, New Mexico, 2012. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 25 years--we're recyclers. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'll be teaching at Colorado College and Wichita State in 2013-14.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Llano Estacado, Karl May, Comancheria, and Weimar Germany


I'm heading to West Texas (Panhandle) and Eastern New Mexico next month. I need to spend some time on the llano estacado, for the novel I'm writing. Need to get a sense of the air, the ground, the light. The novel is set mostly in Weimar-era Germany, where and when my father, HHB,  grew up. He was an Anglo-Irish guy transplanted (deported, actually) to Frankfurt in 1919, age 9, who came of age in that complicated crazy period of German history 1919-33, and taught himself the language of Goethe by reading and re-reading Karl May's Winnetou novels, which are set on the llano estacado. Hence HHB's lifelong fascination with the Wild West, passed on to me. Sounds like a novel, right? So any insider information on the that huge, dry country much appreciated. Right now I'm reading Pekka Hamalainen's wonderful Comanche Empire and learning how the llano estaduco--and 1000's of sq. miles of shortgrass plains east of the Rio Grande Valley and Spanish New Mexico--was dominated from the mid-18th to mid-19th century by the Comanche, a powerful empire of their own once they got horses and iron and good guns.
One of best books about that part of the West (after the mid-19th) is Hampton Sides' Blood & Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson.

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