Monday, May 20, 2013


Please forgive the image of my bathroom (I forgot to shut the door) and try to focus on the other features of the space.  This is where I spend most of my time now--physically, that is.  Mentally, I'm in the Arizona Territory of the early 1880's during the wild old days of the Earp-Clanton feud in the silver-mining boom town of Tombstone.  You'll note the likenesses of Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp to the immediate right of the door and the prints of the OK Corral Gunfight further to the right, above the facing bookcase, the one at the top by the wonderful Western artist Nick Eggenhoffer (which appeared on the dust jacket of Stuart Lake's Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal in 1931) and the bottom one by Don Percival as commissioned by the late Earp researcher John C. Gilchriese.  If you squint closely at the titles on the bookcase you'll be able to discern that all the works clustered there compose my library of Tombstone resource materials--quite an investment of cash, I can tell you, but far from complete when compared to the collections of serious researchers (One can never amass enough material to stay abreast of the almost monthly surfacing of new additions to the Earp-Clanton corpus.)

Perhaps in symbolism of my obscure state as a writer and historian, you'll note the tiny statue of Don Quixote atop the bookcase to the right of my computer.  Below him in front of the left-hand stereo speaker is a hand-painted figurine representing Texas gambler-gunman Ben Thompson.  Nearly obscured by the row of books on the drawing table in the foreground is my cherished Frederic Remington sculpture The Outlaw; the rider's head is barely visible.  My increasingly battered Stetson hangs to the left of the door.  The window above the writing desk gives a wonderful view of the mountainside behind my house, just now lush with spring greenery; regrettably my shortcomings as a photographer have caused that view to be replaced by an impenetrable glare.  To the left of the window and overlooking my desk are my not-so-well-arranged photographs of various Price progenitors and friends from late-19th-century Clay County, NC, the subjects of my earlier novels Hiwassee, Freedom's Altar, The Cock's Spur and Where the Water-Dogs Laughed.

Why do I inflict this view on you?  Surely not out of vanity, since the place is sort of a mess.  I guess I simply wanted to convey some sense of my satisfaction at having such a cozy nook in which to work, after having spent most of my life in migratory fashion, chasing hither and yon over the Southeast in quest of ever-elusive professional achievement and recognition.  Having now yielded up any hope of eminence, I'm quite content in my solitary burrow which I share only with my beloved wife Ruth, our dog Dexter and our cat Salem.  I've never been happier except for what now seems to be a creeping onset of cognitive impairment, a consequence, I suppose, of having turned to the writing life only in my late 50s so that I now, in my 74th year, face old age with a kind of horrified astonishment.

But that's neither here nor there.  Life is what it is, and can only be what we have made of it.  I'm what and where I am because of the decisions I have made, and by far the best of those was my choice to ask Ruth to be my wife.  My second best decision was to give up everything I had previously striven for and move to my native Southern Appalachians to take up the writing life.  I've not won fame or fortune but I've done what I wished to do, have achieved a little attention for it, and have made many friends who have shared my interests and enormously enriched my experience of living.

I will pass up the chance to inflict another chapter of my Earp-Clanton novel on you today in favor of simply thanking you for checking in on me.  These days I never know what's coming next, given what seems the beginning of my cognitive decline.  What means most to me now are those of you who have believed in me, supported me and encouraged me.  I've been a solitary person all my life but now as I sense the slippage of my faculties I'm deeply aware of how very much my friends have helped me along the way; they have been generous, and patient, to do so, because I've probably been too wrapped up in myself to return the favor in equal measure, a failing which I now regret.

As you know, I've a new book coming out next month--nonfiction, for a change.  I must undertake a book tour in Colorado to try to sell it.  While I'm delighted that a new book is in the offing after five long years, because of my ailments I live in dread that I may not be able to manage the tour successfully, or may bungle it from confusion or fatigue.  But I try to hope and plan for the best.

Thank all of you for paying attention to me and my work.  Your good regard has made the latter part of my life the very best and most satisfying of all.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly what I was wondering about - a writer needs a space (think VW a Room of One's Own?). Bringing my camera today, for a bit of B&W work! Perfect setting.