Friday, December 08, 2006

December 8, 2006
I’m still processing the ending of the book I finished the other night. I found it realistic, but somewhat irritating and I didn't want it to end where it did (which is often the sign of a great book). And speaking of which:

More Important Data On Harvey Fergusson
“Even more importantly he wrote the 1925 American Mercury article (that begins "Who Remembers Billy the Kid?") that perfectly foreshadows Burns' book in terms of thematic content. I feel certain Burns read the article and it inspired him to write Saga. Fergusson's Billy article is central to the 20th-century explosion of the Kid legend.”
—Distinguished Professor Paul Andrew Hutton

Amazing. Paul had told me he found this magazine article that predates Walter Noble Burns’ Saga of Billy the Kid, but I didn’t put it together with the author of The Conquest of Don Pedro. Kind of makes one believe that everything here on this planet is connected, doesn’t it? And just to underline that premise, Hutton is currently curating a huge Billy the Kid show that will premiere next May at the Albuquerque Museum.

Not So Random Conquest Excerpt De Jour
“. . .he plucked a bunch of grass over beside the edge of the bosque, dipped it in the water and rubbed the sweating hide to a smooth coolness. The burro turned his head slightly, as he always did when he received this attention, as though to express an incurable surprise. Perhaps no other burro in the long history of New Mexico had ever been treated with such distinguished consideration. Burros were the pack and riding animals of the poorest Mexicans and they had always been objects of abuse, execration and neglect. A burro rider used neither saddle nor bridle. He sat well toward the rump of his mount, guided him by whacking him on the side of the neck with his burro stick, and propelled him forward by a steady pounding of his rear, and by calling him all the eloquent names known to Spanish profanity. When his day’s work was done a burro was turned loose anywhere and picked up his living as best he could, eating weeds, brush and even cactus when no grass was available. Yet a burro was seldom thin and many observers had noted that a dead burro was a rare sight. Burros were not immortal but they did live to a great age, and they were peculiarly immune to accidental casualty and resistant to exploitation. In the service of mankind most burros seldom exceeded a slow walk, but let one of them smell a mountain lion and he would pass anything slower than a frightened jack rabbit.”
—Harvery Fergusson, The Conquest of Don Pedro

”He was grinnin’ like a jackass eatin’ prickly pear.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

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