The Western Star
When I was young, I heard my father recite The Cremation of Sam McGee so many times, I knew much of it by heart. This was a poem he always saved for the long drive home after a day of ice-fishing. I recall being jammed into the backseat of a big car with my sister and brothers and a cousin or two. The air smelled of trout, wet wool, and old smoke from the fire we’d made near the edge of the pond. Once settled, my father would begin, those words rolling out into the darkness of the car, his voice rising and falling with each stanza. Even though I already knew the fate of ice-cold Sam McGee, the poem never ceased to hold me in its spell.
When I think of those drives, which is often, I don’t remember being cold or damp or completely squashed. I remember the sleepy charm of the poems and stories my father told. And I remember arriving home all too quickly, as though a stretch of time had folded. There was weightlessness in those evenings. And I might dare to say, a tiny bit of magic.
Those moments, I believe, are part of the reason I keep chasing characters, images, and ideas. By writing, I strive to recapture that sense of wonder and anticipation, and then have the opportunity to offer it to someone else. A reader.
Glass Boys is my fourth novel. It will be published Fall 2011 by Douglas and McIntyre. Soon you’ll meet a number of characters who are close to my heart, and one who breaks it. Just a little. I am learning as I go along, and I hope you’ll join me on the drive.