El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

lunes, 5 de marzo de 2012

La cabaña de Josh Weil, su mejor escritura

Josh Weil

Josh Weil was born in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Virginia to which he returned to write the novellas in his first book, The New Valley.

A New York Times Editors Choice, The New Valley won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from The American Academy of Arts and Letters; the New Writers Award from the GLCA; a “5 Under 35” Award from the National Book Foundation; and was shortlisted for the Library of Virginia’s literary award in fiction. Weil’s other fiction has appeared in such publications as Granta, One Story and Agni, and he has written non-fiction for The New York Times, Oxford American, and Poets & Writers. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the Dana Foundation, the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, the James Merrill House, and the MacDowell Colony, he has taught at Bowling Green State University as the Distinguished Visiting Writer and been the Tickner Writer-in-Residence at Gilman School.

Currently living and teaching in Oxford, MS, as the University of Mississippi’s John & Rene Grisham Emerging Southern Writer, he is at work on a novel. (Josh’s Web site)

Author Josh Weil: Writing from Heartbreak

(...) TR: You wrote the book in a Blue Ridge cabin. How did the cabin enter your life? What sets it apart for you?
JW: My dad bought land in the Blue Ridge a long time ago, when he was younger than I am now, thought he’d farm it but then had to move away and, for a long time, we didn’t do much with it. It grew up in trees, got overrun with scrub, went wild. Then, when I was 19, we decided to clear a couple acres. We lived on it in a big tent — my brother and dad and I — and hacked away with chainsaws and machetes and a brush hog and then, with the help of a local farmer (who pretty much told us what to do, and we did it) we built a cabin in the clearing.
I had no idea how important that place would become to me. It’s where I’ve done all my best writing; it’s where I return to when I need to get back to myself. And it’s pretty isolated. I’ve gone weeks down there without seeing another person. Down there I can get back to the basic, simplicities of life — everything from eating hot potatoes while I hike up to the ridge, to splitting wood — and I can shove the real world away for a while. And that, for me, is pretty central to being able to live in the world of my fiction, which is the only way I know how to write it well. (Author Josh Weil: Writing from Heartbreak. http://therevivalist.info/josh-weil/)


The New Valley: An Interview with Author Josh Weil
Chris Arvidson, Assistant Director of the National Committee for the New River, interviewed Josh Weil about his new book The New Valley

CHRIS: Your writing is powerfully rooted in a sense of place. Tell us about your growing up in the New River Valley and the influence of that landscape on your writing.
JOSH: Well, I was born in The New River Valley, but my family moved away when I was very young so I actually didn’t really grow up in it. But it was where I became an adult and where, now that I am one, I think of as home. When I was 19, my father—who has owned land on a ridge since he was younger than I am now—decided he wanted to build a cabin. He, my brother, and I, all camped out for a summer on the land, clearing a few acres with chainsaws and brush hogs, and machetes, and then, with the help of a local farmer, we built the cabin where I live when I’m in The New River Valley now.
The landscape and the people who live in it have played a huge role in my writing. I often go for hikes up to the ridge top when I’m working on something, and I do my best thinking then; I often come up with the solution to whatever problem is going on in a story, and I run down and try to get it down on the page. And because I happen to be moving through the landscape while I’m thinking about it, the specifics of the physical world—the way a patch of rhododendrons looks under first snow; the way wild turkeys sound clattering through the leaves; maybe I spot a morel (or merkel, as the locals call them) and that jogs my memory about a guy I know who goes out hunting for them every spring, and I end up writing about that. It’s that kind of thing. And, of course, the weather and geography and remoteness of the place affect the ambiance of my work in ways that are as strong as character.
CHRIS: Tell us about any of your experiences on the New River itself.
JOSH: I have more experience with some of the tributaries. There’s one that runs near the cabin (Sinking Creek) and I’ve tried fishing in there, and talked with a neighbor who farms his own trout in there, and I’ve watched it flood right up to the road, and, of course, I hear it—the sound of it—as a kind of soundscape to my life when I’m down there. I was working on a novel that took place beside a river like the New River, in a trailer right on the bank, and I needed to know exactly how that would affect the landscape and soundscape (and smells) of the world, in daytime, and in night, so I have the New River to thank for that. Plus, it was awfully nice just hanging out by its banks.
CHRIS: I tell people that when they read the “Ridge Weather” story, they’ll be able to smell the cow flop, so strong are your invocations of the rural landscape. What has the reaction been from rural people to your characters in the stories?
JOSH: You know, I was worried about that. Because it’s really important to me that what I’m writing doesn’t feel like it’s mocking or dismissive of Appalachian rural life in any way. I feel the opposite: I have a real connection and love for the people who are my neighbors, and I hope that comes through. But you never know. So, one of the most gratifying aspects of publishing this book has been the way the local people—my neighbors—have responded to it. The first reading I did was at a general store run by a woman who has a small dairy herd. She was there, and her husband. And my 86-year-old neighbor from down the mountain (he and I exchange asparagus and apple butter, whisky and eggs) was there. And a few others. And they sat and listened and then afterwards we all talked about gun holes in the sides of old mountain homes and I gave them some books and they were nothing but excited for me and proud of me. It was really touching. Then, just the other night, I read in Blacksburg and two people who live in trailers on my road out in the valley came by and surprised me. They bought a couple books and told me how pleased they were with what I was doing. It meant the world to me.
CHRIS: In the “Stillman Wing” story, water is malevolent and magical at the same time. Tell us about how water influences your characters.
JOSH: What an interesting question, and one I’ve never been asked before. But it’s a good one, and insightful. There is something particularly moving about water. The idea of a spring up in the mountains, how it’s so essential to existence up there, the way that small settlements crop up around a good spring and you can still see the stones of the spring box or the old split rail fences or cellar walls a century later: I find that all so evocative of the passage of time, and the elemental needs that stay the same. There’s a sense of mystery about water, especially rivers, which I think is important to my work, too.
In “Sarverville Remains,” the final novella, the river is something that comes from a place unknown and goes to a place other than the one where the main character is trapped, and so it comes to represent a kind of escape, and a kind of mysterious wonder. Of course, rivers have held writers imagination in those ways for a long time. Just look at Huck Finn. In “Stillman Wing,” the second novella, there’s both the river—which floods, and which leads from a world that scares the main character, and threatens to disrupt his carefully constructed life—and there’s the pond, which is, as you say, more of a malevolent thing, though its malevolence is wrapped up in wonder and magic and, in the end, something of a salvation.
I think that might come from an entirely personal thing: I have an irrational and intense fear of deep, dark water. Oceans, mostly, but lakes and ponds, too. I get panicked about it: the way you can’t see what’s under you. It just creeps me out. I think I’ve got a handle on it, now—I make myself swim in deep lakes, and find I love it once I can get myself calm—but I guess maybe it’s just shifted over into my fiction.
CHRIS: Tell us a bit about your cabin, how you decided to buy it, and about the place it serves in your writing life.
JOSH: We built it! My brother, dad, and I. No buying involved at all. Except for the land. My dad bought that when he was in his 20s and he thought he’d start a small experimental farm there (he’s a soil scientist). He and my mom were going to be back-to-the-landers. But life took them away from the land, and it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that my dad came back to it and we built the cabin over one of the most enjoyable summers of my life.
There was this farmer, the hardest worker I know, and he’d built some barns. He was our foreman. And we put together a beautiful place. Just one big room, really, and a ladder to an attic where I sleep. A wood stove, spring water running through the pipes non-stop to keep from freezing in the winter (which it does, sometimes, anyway). Over the years, we’ve build woodsheds, a grape arbor, a stone path, put in a big garden, some fruit trees. It’s the most peaceful place I know. And it’s where I go to get away from the stresses and distractions of everyday life. It’s those things that kill the writing, I think. And it’s getting them out of my mind that lets me do my best work. So I’ve written most of what I love down at that cabin. I’d be lost without it. Luckily, I’ve had stray months here or there when I can go down and hole up and write. Last year I was there for 7 months straight.
CHRIS: Do you have more stories to tell about the New River Valley? What can you share about what you are working on now?
JOSH: I definitely have more stories to tell set in the New River Valley area, and I think I’ll tell some of them before too long. Right now I’m working on something that’s set somewhere else entirely—in a factory town in northern Russia where I spent a little time as a kid—but there’s a novel set in the fictional valley based on The New River Valley that has been kicking around in my head (and on the page) for a while, and that I know I’ll write eventually. It’s about a dairy farmer, and the development that is, sadly, threatening the New River Valley, and his struggle against it to protect his way of life. It already has a hold on my heart, so I know that eventually I’ll come back down to the cabin and shut out the rest of the world and write that story, too. (Chris Arvidson, Assistant Director of the National Committee for the New River, interviewed Josh Weil about his new book The New Valley - http://newrivervoice.com/archives/3262)


No hay comentarios: