Monday, March 14, 2005

Understanding Bill Blackolive

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.


Anonymous said...

This isn't in response to what you wrote.
But I don't know where else to post it it.
I got a post card for the First Annual New York Round Table Writers Conference, April 29 to 30, 2005. at the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen at 20 W.44th Street.
It is a networking event with Publishing Industry insiders; editors, agents,publicists, reviewers, bestselling authors and publishers from top houses. Does this mean that people who would generally shove you aside or ignore you might actually look at you?

Meet representatives from blah, blah and blah. Panel discussions (yawn), Cocktail reception and gala dinner.

Well I have to pencil that in my calendar. The only catch is the fine print just like on the back of the cereal box. It costs $295 for two days, $195 for one. You get a crummy $20 discount for registering early.

Are the rumors all true? is Publishing in such bad shape in this country that they have to stoop to this?

If anyone does go to protest this, they should really complain about the high prices for this event.

King Wenclas said...

I did a Monday Report once on a similar event at the same place.

Jeff Potter said...

This kinda reminds me of the clever guy in the "Beyond Hope" thread who said that the Net is going to destroy both mainstream and underground.

He doesn't know the truism "The best place to hide a book is on the Net."

The bigger the forum, the smaller the cliques.

No new writers will be found or helped at this Conference. It'll be more of the same. Thus a protest is always in order. Does anyone have any nerve but King? It looks like another great chance to show your salt. --That I bet everyone will FLUNK, unless King can work some magic.

Something that looks like bigger access only offers smaller. --For stuff that matters, anyway.

Sure, more people are publishing today: blogs about what their cat ate today; diet advice; tech manuals. I'm impressed!

It's like cellphones: they've helped some urgent calls to get thru, sure, but wasted airtime has gone up, what, 1000X.

It's the message, not the medium.

Well, sure, there's a blend of factors but in our: it's the message. Coz that's what we have none of today. The medium hasn't really been a barrier for a long time.

King Wenclas said...

Any protests I'll be engaging in for the near future won't be in New York!

Noah Cicero said...

about the ezine thing. I'm an eziner you all know that. From reading zeens and ezines all I can tell for sure is that zeens and ezine short stories have this in common: They are short, terse, and if the writer doesn't kick you in the balls quickly you aren't gonna read anymore, basically the writing doesn't have filler, and it is more personal then mainstream writing and even the classics.
Will the internet destroy mainstream lit: Mainstream lit is already destroyed like The Marquis of France or the Romanovs, they just need to be finished off.