Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Lafferty # 10

"These are bitter grits that we eat from the trains of Appalachia: their own hogs eat finer than we do. Consider the wealths in High Appalachia: the red grapes of Roane and the white grapes of Smokey Mountain Vineyards; the sweet corn centers of fertile Shelby, and the popcorn plantations of Cumberland; the flax, the wool, the cotton, the Jim-pie-weed cloth; the peat and the coal and the pine-knots for fuel; the rock oil from the hills and the catfish oil from the streams; the pumpkin bread, the hickory nut bread, the bean bread every day of the week; fat beef, fat pork, fat mutton; ducks and geese and woodcock and savanna hen; turkey and guinea; the plump rabbits of Ozarkia and the meaty woodchucks of Doniphan; light wheat, dark rye, barley, and rolling fields of oats; sunflower seeds, pecans and peanuts. Would it be robbery if we took our fair share of these things, nor waited for their niggardly food trains?"

-R. A. Lafferty, 'Assault On Fat Mountain' (1975)


Kevin Cheek said...

I must admit complete unfamiliarity with this story. "Consider the wealths in High Appalachia:" I assume that this is an alternate reality, somewhat along the lines of a Day of Grass, or perhaps "Interurban Queen?"

By the way, another good story along those lines is Howard Waldrop's "Mary Margaret Road-Grader" (available at ) Many people have commented over the years on parallels between Lafferty and Waldrop. They both mine the riches of tall tale and folk tale and they can both imply a much richer world than the describe simply in words. Sadly, they are both known primarily among other writers and literary types and don't have the popularity and wide publication I think they deserve.

Just my random reactions to the Daily Lafferty. Thank you for posting it!

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Well spotted, Kevin! This story's in an alternate history-themed anthology. I have to admit I totally don't get it but this short little story that almost feels incomplete has roped me in and I've read it three times over now.

I love Lafferty's erudite lists like this one. (He's got one or two more in this story.)

Philip said...

You presumably found the story in an anthology called "Beyond Time".

ISFDB makes an error hear in failing to note that it also appears in "Back Door of History", a UM chapbook it seems unaware of.

That reminds me, I was going to crosscheck ISFDB and the bibliography you sent me. Will try and do now I am a little better but half term and other commitments might slow this down.

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Yeah, that's correct, Philip. Got it for a pence and postage. I love these old 70s paperback anthologies - Lafferty's is usually the only story in them worth collecting, but there are sometimes a few more (often a Gene Wolfe one, but I usually already have it in one his own collections). But it's just so time-bending to hold in your grubby hands a copy of a book that came out when Laff was alive and active in the field.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)