Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “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.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Llano Estacado #1

Just back from a trip to the Llano Estacado. There will be a bunch of posts upcoming on this strange land. For one the thing the Llano--so high and dry--is a retirement community for old trucks. More on that in later posts. 
I became aware of the Llano as a kid because my father, like millions of children growing up in Germany, was fascinated by it. The Llano, though most Americans have never heard of it, has been for more than a century a landscape of dreams for millions of Germans who came of age reading Karl May's Winnetou novels. 
May was Einstein's favorite author. Also Hitler's. Also my father's. (I've written about my father and Karl May and The West in an essay you can read here.)
My father was brought into defeated, furious Gemany in 1919 as a nine-year old English schoolboy after his family (Anglo Irish mother, German father) were deported from England. He taught himself to speak German by reading the Winnetou stories and novels. Which have to do with the adventures of Winnetou, chief of the Mescalero Apaches, and his (German) blood-brother, Old Shatterhand, out on the Llano Estadaco, which sprawls over the Texas Panhandle and into eastern New Mexico. For most of the 19th century this was the heart of Comancheria, the Comanche empire. The Comanches were certainly the strongest nation in this part of the world until their final defeat by the US Army in the 1870s. 
The Llano is a bioregion and a distinct geographic and geologic zone. One place to begin to read about it is Horizontal Yellow: Nature and History in the Near Southwest by Dan Flores. Essentially one huge mesa, the Llano is extremely level; without any significant rivers, lakes or stream. It is bigger than most of New England and separated from the plains surrounding it by sharp, steep red cliffs--the "caprock" which defines the Llano north, east, and west. (To the south, the Llano slopes indistinctly into the Edwards Plateau and the high plains of southwest Texas.)
I began with a hike in the Palo Duro Canyon, on the eastern perimeter of the Llano, about fifteen miles east of Canyon, Texas. This rugged red rock canyon is typical of the country at the rim of the  Llano, but it is an unexpected surprise after crossing the wide open plains on top of the mesa

1 comment:

  1. Dear Peter, clearly, Karl May had never seen this strange beauty of a landscape. Nowhere to hide. Your pictures would have stifled May's prose even more. All of this looks like a vast but solid sea. Wonderful. Thanks, Michael N.