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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maine to Marfa

We're in West Texas. Finally. At seven-thirty in the morning, the sun is just up, the sky is pale blue edged with pink, and it's a chill high-desert 27 degrees out there. Yesterday by noon it was 60. A couple inches of snow are possible for the weekend: Marfa is only fifty miles from the Mexican border, but it's also 4500' above sea level and in the West it's usually altitude, not latitude, that matters when it comes to cold.
            A few weeks ago we abandoned our original plan to drive the 2700 miles from downeast Maine to far-West Texas in the fifteen-year-old Volvo, with the five-year-old aboard. We flew instead. It still felt like a long haul.
           We left Brooklin, Maine on Monday afternoon, and drove three hours to Freeport for a Christmastime dinner with BB's family. Spent the night in Freeport, and woke up at 3:45am.  Basha's generous papa drove us to the Portland Jetport (not airport, mind you: jetport) for a six a.m. flight to Chicago. The three of us were groggy. BB and HBB managed to sleep but PB could not: he is @ four inches too tall to comfortably crank his legs into the space allotted to an economy seat, let alone snooze in one, so spent the flight reading a book he'll be reviewing for the Washington Post: James Barret's The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City, the newest vol. in Penguin's History of American Life series.
           From Chicago we caught a flight to El Paso and arrived in Texas around noon Mountain Time. We had arranged for the community Trax bus to pick us at the airport and take us to Marfa, three hours to the southwest. The Trax is used by people in the Big Bend area--Van Horn, Marfa, Alpine, Presidio--to get to El Paso, for shopping trips and (mostly) doctor appointments. We spent two hours waiting outside a medical clinic for one lady so the last leg of the trip wasn't exactly speedy. But West Texas sunshine was having its usual positive effect, so even hanging about outside a medical clinic in the drear exurbs of sprawling EP was okay; at least for the first hour-and-a-half. Fellow passengers on the bus were three ladies from Van Horn, Texas ,and the French artist Wilfred Almendra, who is in Marfa with Field Work Marfa,  which is a joint project of three European schools: ESBA Nantes Métropole, HEAD-Genève, and Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. 

                                                    l'equipe  Fieldwork Marfa  
Almendra is a sculptor interested in studying how humankind impacts the environment. “Marfa is like a lab for me,” he says in an interview in the Big Bend Sentinel, as translated by our Parisienne/ Texan friend Valerie Breuvart Culbertson, who is the project's Marfa liaison and project manager. “My interest may be to contrast places like the Sunbelt with the authenticity of a place like Marfa.”

                                          Marfa, The Horses AcrossThe Street
The bus dropped us off at our Marfa house around 730 pm Marfa (Central) Time, which made it an eighteen-and-a-half hour travel day. HBB dozed most of the last couple of hours, but kept waking up and demanding to know when he was going to see his Marfa copain, Victor.

                            Les gars avec leur poulets
PB immediately caught a ride on the bus over to Ricky Rojo's house to grab our Marfa wheels. Ricky has been babysitting the Custom Deluxe and rebuilding the transmission: the truck is in good shape, and we are contemplating a truck-trip to Austin sometime this winter.

                                                          Icy Morning, West Texas

But right now it feels great to settle in here. The three of us went out to lunch yesterday at the Food Shark, which we dream of when in Maine, and saw a bunch of our Marfa amigos. BB is setting up her winter studio at Wrong, Buck and Camp's gallery, downtown: she'll be fabricating and selling her gold and silver jewelry at Wrong this year.
P.S. PB's interview with Shelagh Rogers on her CBC Radio show The Next Chapter originally broadcast on CBC1  December 19 will air again at 4pm December 24th, on CBC1. Here's the podcast. PB did this interview at the early, Vancouver stages of a massive transcontinental head cold, which is why he sounds like he is talking from deep inside a snowdrift.

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