Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mad As the Mist and Snow

Welcome to Mad As the Mist and Snow: Exploring Oregon Through Its Cemeteries. The title, a poem by W. B. Yeats, appears as an epitaph in Jones Pioneer Cemetery in Portland, OR, the first stanza of which goes:

   Bolt and bar the shutter,
   For the foul winds blow:
   Our minds are at their best this night,
   And I seem to know
   That everything outside us is
   Mad as the mist and snow.

Think of it as a tickler for the Oregon cemetery experience, designed to be taken to bed with you at night when you’re ensconced in a motel in Burns and are wondering what to do the next day. “Look, here’s something we could do tomorrow: visit the Fort Harney Cemetery.”

And Drewsey. Don’t forget Drewsey. Drewsey is a doozy.

The contents will be familiar to studious readers of Blogging a Dead Horse and followers of DeadManTalking as most everything is taken from blog posts or set introductions on Flickr. They’re easy to find, if tedious. On the other hand, a chunk of the book is given over to selected epitaphs arranged into categories; and while they all exist among the photos on Flickr, finding them is a major challenge. I drew them from a separate database of epitaphs not available on the Web, that’s easier to search than Flickr.

This is a case where the publisher contacted me; a rarity in the business, and for that I am eternally grateful. But it also means that I agreed to pretty much whatever the publisher wanted and the result is a heavily edited version of what you’ll find in the blog or Flickr. That being said, it’s a text-driven book, not a coffee-table book. That will come later and will cost a bunch more. At $22.50, this one is a steal. Okay, if not a steal, then a long-term borrowing.

What I’d really like is to drag you out to the cemeteries with me so we could both exclaim, “Wow, look at this!” Alas, you live in Massachusetts and I live in Oregon.

But if you can’t get out to see Oregon cemeteries, don’t worry, you have equally wonderful cemeteries in your backyard. Everyone does. If reading this book makes cemeteries pop out and seem fun to you, hop on your bike or slide into your car and head for the hills. Or the hollows or the flats. Or the northeast part of town, wherever dead people congregate. It’s free and its visceral. Parks with art and reading material. Pathos and tenderness. Stone-cold history and angels; what more could you want?

The book is available at Ashland Creek Press and should show up on Amazon is a week to ten days. Or what the heck, send me $22.50 and I’ll send you a copy, shipping free. Is this too good to pass up, or what?


Sheri Fenley said...

Congratulations !! You did it! I knew that your talent would make people stand up and take notice! If I order a book, will you sign it for me?

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

That poem is... um.. sheer poetry. The book looks awesome!

Unknown said...

Absolutely, Sheri!