Like Charlotte Bronte? Like underwear? Then see my piece in honour of Miss Bronte's upcoming 200th birthday in this weekend's Globe and Mail. I look at three new books: a biography by Claire Harman, a biography of things by Deborah Lutz, and a Jane Eyre-inspired story collection edited by Tracy Chevalier. They're all proof that the past spits out new things all the time.
I had a good time with this article and the associated reading. Like so many others, I've always wanted to understand Bronte's life and work better. I've made the pilgrimage to the parsonage in Haworth; it was a rainy autumn day, and I had the place almost to myself. It made me think about the way we conjure up the dead and try to feel their presence, as I had to do with Dan in All True, without the benefit of seeing anywhere he once lived.
Lucasta Miller, another great Bronte scholar, once noted that nobody has yet written the great Charlotte novel. She's got me thinking, probably hubristically. I remain on the eighteenth-century American frontier for now, though.
We have been hit with the lucky stick to have this pic, taken by the one and only photographer and author Gary Fong from his car while driving through Venice, CA. Dan did say this, or something like it.
Very happy that All True is a finalist for the BC Book Prizes. What a great list for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Award--and I've long admired British Columbia author Ethel Wilson's writing (1954's Swamp Angel is pretty great--girl with a gun, for one thing). April 30th is announcement day, but before then, some of the finalists will be touring BC giving talks and readings. I grew up in BC but haven't been far beyond the Lower Mainland and Okanagan, so I hope to see more of the place in the next month. Unlike Dan, I don't do so well sleeping in lean-tos, however. Anyway, reading dates will be posted here.
The great Tracy Chevalier offers her five favourite frontier novels on Goodreads this month. All True makes the list! I'm honoured to be in the company of Laura Ingalls Wilder (my inner child is screeching for joy) and Cormac McCarthy (present self screeching too). It's also lovely to see what Tracy says about my book here:
"I am so glad this novel will be published in the U.S. later in 2016, as it gets inside the mind of one of America's most enduring pioneer folk heroes and strips him bare. Early pioneer Daniel Boone is mostly known for his coonskin cap, but in Hawley's version he is a peculiar man with a habit of leaving his family to go hunting and taking years to return. Hawley writes about Boone's relationship with Native Americans and with the harsh landscape he survives in a manner both dreamlike and enthralling."
OK, we know Dan hated coonskin caps, but we're not sure exactly how he looked. I wish there were more than one portrait done of him in his lifetime. Tracy deftly handles the nature of art and portraits in her book, Girl With a Pearl Earring. Here's our only visual of Dan, in which he's an old man, next to Vermeer's equally mysterious Girl.
I'm the author of My Name is a Knife, All True Not a Lie In It, and The Old Familiar.