But the novel is at its most rare and its most profound when it climaxes in the perspective of maturity and its celebration of the beauty and fragility of life. And it is all rendered in language often so luminous that whole paragraphs seem to simply lift up off the page. Maynard says somewhere in here that we search all of our lives, some of us, for that one great thing that makes us who we are.
Let me tell you folks, for Maynard that great thing is this deeply spiritual journey of a book, which is basically a roadmap of his never-ending quest for that elusive place in the heart we call home. If they are a product of his extraordinary imagination and perspicacity, well bless his heart even more. In any event, you can't go wrong reading these servings of pure genius from a native writer who will remain a West Virginian no matter where he goes.
- Listening Between the Lines, a short poetic play.
In The Pale Light of Sunset , Maynard's stories take us on his sometimes harrowing journey from the hills of West Virginia to a mountaintop in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we learn along with him his life lessons. Seldom have I come across a book of short stories that read like such a compelling novel. Indeed, The Pale Light of Sunset is just such a narrative of the mind and spirit for our own time.
If rural West Virginia is the point of departure and emotional keystone throughout the book, Maynard's internal and external geography is the Great Wide Open of both the planet and the human heart. This book is filled with surprise, humor sometimes riotous, at other times wry and sly , full-bore old fashioned adventure, violence, mystery, and, finally, tenderness. Lee Maynard is teaching us to pay attention, to live the moments when they come, and savor them forever as the reasons that we are here.
In , a child is born in the mountains of West Virginia. In , he scatters his past into a deep canyon of rock. The Pale Light of Sunset: Scattershots and Hallucinations in an Imagined Life illuminates the journey of this boy, a constant tourist and visitor, who travels everywhere, yet belongs nowhere. Through tales of swarming hornets and swinging bullies, love affairs with the land and its people, and near death by frostbite and heat stroke, the absurd hilarity and clear, tender voice found within this story navigates a surreal road paved by the experiences of one man.
- You are here.
- Hold Your Peace (Short Story).
Author of nationally acclaimed and locally banned novels Crum and Screaming with the Cannibals , Lee Maynard details an imaginative account of his journey through seventy years of hard living—from West Virginia, to Mexico, the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Scattered and hallucinated, The Pale Light of Sunset grants a long-awaited glimpse into the bent condition of the Maynard brain. I come screaming into the world among the only valuable things my grandmother owns.
There is a small settee on which no one is allowed to sit; a tiny table of unknown origin; a pump organ, which no one plays. A strange polka-dot vase with a string of white glass coiling around it. And me, pulled into the world by a midwife I would never know and would never meet again. I am born in West Virginia. I am a West Virginian.
And, as are all of us, I am a child only of West Virginia. And of no where, of no one, else.
As I grow older and my mother brings me in from the mountains to visit my grandmother, I realize in my child-mind that my grandmother's house is the only place in my world where I feel safe, where I feel comfortable. Each time, before I even go inside, I can smell the biscuits my grandmother bakes, larger than any biscuits I have ever seen, larger than my hand. My grandmother feeds me biscuits and homemade jelly and then I go back outside to play.
He is out of there. He travels, carrying his childhood emotional baggage with him.
Sometimes he finds cohorts. They work jobs together, the kind involving pickup trucks, horses, filling stations, and paychecks spent in whorehouses. There is screaming, drinking, and fighting. It will remain there in many parkas to come. Each short chapter indicates the passing of time with about 10 chapters a decade. Not back home or back to college.
He might join the military. A stint in the Army proves to be a really bad idea with one major exception, love at first sight: I am seeing something I have never seen before. I am seeing the future.
The Pale Light of Sunset: Scattershots and Hallucinations in an Imagined Life
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