Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Story

I searched for "McKeon's Graft" by Luke Thrice, who was really John Russell, and it can be found in Russell’s book In Dark Places, published in 1923. The only copy in Oregon is in the library at Oregon State. There are 5 library copies in the state of California, and a listing of places I can borrow it in Canada. I’m not sure if they’ll let me borrow a copy there, but if I get there I’ll have my passport handy, incase they need two pieces of ID. Maybe I could go there by train. The Portland Art Museum’s exhibiting of a Wyeth train illustration particularly interests me. Wyeth drew, painted and did watercolor of countless subjects, but the train scene foreshadows his untimely death. In a car, stalled on the tracks, a speeding train hit him as he sat with his grandson for the last time. The day before that he started a painting called “First Farmer on the Land” for Country Gentleman Magazine. If things had been different, and Wyeth had finished it, and Portland had that painting and later he’d been killed by a tractor, I would sense the same unnerving satisfaction. I don’t know why, but maybe it has something to do with how I’ll tell the story. If I do get a chance to tell someone his life all the way to the end, I want to be in front of that speeding train, those windswept scarves on reeling bandits. I will slowly breathe out the final line to his life “and then he stalled the car on the tracks, and the train hit.” because that’s the way to end a great story.

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