Someone mentioned General Custer on this blog. At the library I glanced at a few books about Custer. One included the statements of troopers who'd survived the fight, part of a detachment in another part of the field when Custer divided his forces, who'd been unwilling or unable to come to his aid.
What struck me when reading a couple of the statements was, "This sounds like Wild Bill!" The troopers had Bill's dialect; his way of writing.
When I arrived home I dug out a couple old copies of Bill's zeen "Last Laugh," to study the Blackolive style:
"Read Moby Dick. Melville was a hippy. The whale is spaced, cosmic, not in smaller focus while he basks on the sea surface building his oxygen. His evolution did not include men in boats coming to kill him. Though, as Melville in the novel records, minds of sperm whales have been known to pull back in, in order to kill puny men. Sperm whales are recorded in a few instances to have rammed and sunk wooden whaling vessels. Forsooth, we should keep at minimum one blathering Dr. Steve as reference to those buggered children whose throes demonstrate craft of broken minds. Said craft leads men to politics and the U.S. presidency. It is interesting."
After this statement, Bill includes a long Melville quote which begins, "For to be a man's intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men, without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry and base."
It occurred to me that Bill's style is like Melville's as well. Could it be that Blackolive, in his life of east Texas isolation, carries intact the verbal rhythmns that were common in America in the 19th century?
I recall when Bill read at the ULA's Detroit show in 2002. He recited an excerpt from his novel Tales from the Texas Gang. With his casual Texas drawl, Bill was very effective. Bill has a unique aura of absolute authenticity. He's like a preserved wooly mammoth come back to life. Listening to him, one knows that this is what 19th century Texas outlaws looked and sounded like. Bill Blackolive thus is a rare and unappreciated treasure. One would think professors and lit-folk would be flocking to Aransas Pass to listen to the guy-- the ultimate roots writer.