Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Utah, Rebecca West, Joseph Conrad, links, etc.

Let me preemptively apologize for the jumbled content of this post. I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the last several days, trying to get myself ready for tomorrow's trip to Utah, and disjointedness is the best I can do at the moment.

Booklogged asked in comments last week what the deal is with me and Utah. Until 2005, I'd been no further west than Knoxville, Tenn., which is most definitely still in the South, although I'd been in love with the idea of the West practically my entire life--too many westerns as a kid, I'm sure. In 2005, C. and her best friend from elementary school, H., won an auction at the Generous Adventures site to camp and ride horses for a week in the San Rafael Swell. My notions of the West generally centered around Wyoming and Colorado, but with L. not willing to get an R.V. and take me out there any time soon, and with a lot of fingercrossing that the years of shots and the special magical eyedrops that the doctor had supplied me with would keep my horse allergy in check, I decided to tag along to Utah with C. and H.

And we found out that we loved Utah so much that we have to keep going back. Hondoo Rivers and Trails are the greatest outfitters ever.

If I weren't going to Utah, I would most definitely be going to the Third International Rebecca West Society Conference in New York weekend after next. Francine Prose is giving the keynote speech and they'll be showing a Bill Moyers' interview with West from 1981. I'll be taking The Fountain Overflows along with me to Utah to show my long distance solidarity.

On Sunday I read Joseph Conrad's The Shadow-Line for Carl's R.I.P. Challenge. It wasn't a true haunted ship story--the chief mate who is suffering from tropical fever believes the former ship's captain, now deceased, is behind the ship's multitude of woes--but an initiation story for a young third mate abruptly made a captain.

One closes behind one the little gate of mere boyishness--and enters an enchanted garden. Its very shades glow with promise. Every turn of the path has its seduction. And it isn't because it is an undiscovered country. One knows well enough that all mankind had streamed that way. It is the charm of universal experience from which one expects an uncommon or personal sensation--a bit of one's own.

One goes on recognising the landmarks of the predecessors, excited, amused, taking the hard luck and the good luck together--the kicks and the halfpence, as the saying is--the picturesque common lot that holds so many possibilites for the deserving or perhaps for the lucky. Yes. One goes on. And the time, too, goes on--till one perceives ahead a shadow-line warning one that the region of early youth, too, must be left behind.

And, since I've just finished the Conrad, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Christina at I Heart Paperbacks is hosting a Seafaring Challenge Nov. 1 through Jan. 31. While I certainly have enough nautical books on hand to read myself into an Admiralty, I'm already committed to too many other challenges during that time period to do more than obtain a lowly berth as a Lieutenant. Right now I'm leaning toward Harry Thompson's This Thing of Darkness.

While I'm in Utah riding a horse to check out dinosaur footprints, you could be reading about the evolution of the horse at Laelaps (via Pharyngula). One of my earliest horse books contained pictures of Eohippus.

See you end of next week!


  1. have a great trip! Take lots of pictures!

  2. Oh, I intend to! Last year we had two days of rain and the camera battery ran down--not a lot of pictures. This year I'm taking a spare.

  3. You'll be near, but not very near. San Raefel is amazing. Have a wonderful time.

  4. I just finished The Fountain Overflows and was delighted. I hope you enjoy it. Why she is so out of print is beyond me.

  5. I wish I had found This Thing of Darkness in stores. I stink.

  6. That should be fun. Enjoy!

    (I need to read Rebecc West at some point!)

  7. Have a great time in Utah!

    My husband took my two boys on a river rafting trip on the Green River in Utah last summer and they had an amazing time. Beautiful country!


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