A warm day was promised, so I went out early to water the transplants. I didn’t notice while watering, but the no-seeums were out in force and biting me all over (wasn’t wearing much). No–seeums are so small that sometimes you miss them. Then the itching begins. In a way they’re like a metaphor for an internal irritation, surfacing after the initial unconscious encounter. That’s the only connection with Maine this post will have, so we might even consider it off-topic.
This is not a post about politics but a play on current events. Really, I just want to interest readers in The God’s Cycle. The setting of these six books is actually 35 years ago–or 190, if you count The 1808 Monster on the sidebar (available everywhere, print or e.). In the U.S. America, time is now right to capture attention for rural qualities. These books are full of what it’s like to live here now, not just 35 or 190 years ago. (Although the population has grown through influx.) Some industry has gone from Maine, wood-turning, shoe-making and textiles for instance; and much of the paper-making. The only other thing missing in the early-mid 1980s (or 1808) setting is the device in your hand — or otherwise at your fingertips. Maybe our fancy doesn’t need that gadget appearing during the invisible imaginative experience?
These books are sold individually or together in one volume. They are on the Amazon author’s page (sidebar link below) and elsewhere–full of community, character, mountains rivers woodlands diners and the I.I.C.E. (International Institute of Coordinated Experiments). Also love, loggers, mechanics, paper and pulp mills, uncanny animal critters, and hell.
What’s not to like?
After leaving Ohio we moved a dozen times and finally got a home of our own in Maine. We need a self-cleaning house, because the down side is maintenance and cleaning. The upside is everything else. Or, we could hire a domestic. Yes they work here in rural Maine. But they need to earn a living so that’s out for us.
How do you create a cast of characters? Start with societal roles and extrapolate with details related and unrelated to these roles. For instance, a writer has in mind a role of doctor in the community. Or shop-keeper, volunteer, lumberman, domestic, deputy, journalist, pastor, server, selectman, club-woman, and other roles, all helpful in developing characters. These roles or jobs are archetypal, starting writers on the road to peopling their novels. If you start with these in earnest, the muse may suggest quirks and morals, humors and tastes, suitable for these roles…or even carrying them off in new directions. You can also add in tiny bits you know from personal experience. So you’ll be an artisanal character quilter, taking tiny patches of incidents from life and using in mosaic to make these characters’ lives.
There are reasons for choosing roles aside from sub-creation of character. One of these is thematic. A major theme of THE GOD’S CYCLE is small rural towns in transition.
Spring in Maine is mud. We don’t call it spring, but mud season. It is mud and road surface load limits written in bright orange; it is frost heaves and more mud. There is mud, congealed or stiff, in ridges and ruts at the local airport. The light planes, clearly things of the air, can hardly negotiate the rugged unpaved ramp.
I pulled out in the Subaru, driving slowly past the yard next-door where the otherwise unemployed fishermen—laid off from the ski resort—were planting shrubs for their landlord in partial exchange for rent. There was a bit of yardwork and clean-up to be done after winter and, as I passed, the tall one displayed a large fish head. Grinning at me, he dropped it into the hole he had just dug for a flowering shrub.
The Blizzard, blowing level past, sucked the power out of our homes, 30,000 homes according to reports on the battery operated radio. Why would the storm take all the power? — it had more than enough already.
Friends, please feel free to direct requests for review, or examination copies to me via comments here!
The embarrassing admission:
The editor in charge of cover text asked for a back-of-the-book description to surmount its blurb by Jake Meador. I chose part of something from the book I particularly liked—heavily influenced by Annie Dillard. By JRR Tolkien. In the way of metaphoric memoir, the description was written in first person. The editor’s reply? It must be third-person description. Being low energy, I gave them what you see in this cover image. And …I just wanted that passage! Here is the original unedited from inside the book:
Another Maine Metaphor is coming out, this one with a new geographic focus, Maine’s eastern uplands, a construct from my Maine undergraduate studies, in the late 1980s as a nontraditional student. But today I’m posting about a neighboring town and author, in part because of personal connections with the town. The town is Mexico, Maine.
You read that right. Mexico, Maine. Maine is more than half the geographic area of New England, and so far there is only a beginning immigrant quantity of Mexican-Americans in the White- Anglo-Saxon Protestant-founding of New England, USA. I’m seeing none at all in this part of the Western Mountains of Maine.
So, Mexico Maine? —White Maine? But the mill towns of Mexico and Rumford (over the river) had been home to immigrants from early days of the mill’s founding by Hugh Chisholm in the late 1800s. In those days it was woodland/farmland but possessed of the greatest national waterfalls east of Niagara — where Hugh Chisholm came from on hearing of these remote woodlands and the great unharnessed falls.
When we first drove into Mexico in our secondhand patched together 12-year-old gas hogging Buick, we saw the mill right off, of course. It was almost the whole reason we’d come.
On our bike ride this a.m. R. took the image of post and beam timber-framing going on at the house we lived in, briefly, on moving to maine … after an even briefer season of needing a roof over head. It was a gift to live for a few months on this pond. Later we got to know the area enough to write a cycle of books, and a series, one fiction, one non. Here’s a fragment from the first, about a rural town in transition: