A Short Review of The Borderland: A Novel of Texas by Edwin Shrake (Hyperion Pub.)

A Short Review of The Borderland: A Novel of Texas by Edwin Shrake (Hyperion Pub.) This is the second novel of Edwin Shrake that I’ve read. adidas stan smith mid uomo The Los Angeles Times named it “one of the ten best books of 2000.” If you like reading of the West, and especially if you have an interest in Texas history, you’ll like this.

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  • Strong at points in sexual matters, the prose is vivid, the characters are full of life and energy, and the plot held my attention. It is historical fiction in some aspects, and the style and strength of the novel reminded me of Larry McMurtry’s and of Cormac McCarthy’s westerns. Mochilas Kanken Classic Laced with epigraphs, some of which are quotations from Texas related letters and individuals, Shrake takes us into the world and mind of the Comanche and the early Texans and into the inner world of the characters. adidas yeezy boost 750 męskie Reading the novel is an object lesson in the political intrigue and conflict (such as the enmity between Houston and Lamar) that helped form Texas. One forgotten and rather shameful episode that is woven into the plot is Lamar’s dealings with Native Americans and the expulsion of the Cherokees. This was of interest to me because I work in the Texas Cherokees into my Texas history program. Overall, I’d have to say this is a fine novel. Here are a couple of quotes I liked: About the city of Houston: “But when it was hot, which was most of the year, the city lying on the same latitude as Calcutta, mosquitoes and flies rose out of the bayou in black curtains, and dogs rolled over, their tongues hanging out, and died in the sun . . . There were thirty-six saloons in Houston City . . Under Armour Pas Cher .There was not one bank or church in the town.” (71) The novel is full of little historical details and terms I’ve never encountered–sure to keep me busy looking them up as I go back through to firm up my new vocabulary. nike air max 90 hombre The prologue has this incident: “In February of 1839 a monster cyclone formed in the Pacific a Thousand miles off the coast of Sinaloa and whirled counterclockwise toward the continent, tearing the ocean in waves eighty feet high that smashed over the beach at the village of Teacapan and flung boats into the mountains. Every human within five miles of Teacapan was drowned. The storm collided with the Sierras at the ten-thousand foot peak of Yerba Buena. new balance 1300 acquisto Wind ripped goats out of the rocks and hurled them down into the jungle. Wooden crosses that had been planted by angels flew away from mountain passes they had hoarded longer than memory. Settlements of Indians vanished forever. nike air max italian camo The storm poured seven feet of rain on the ancient town of Zacatecas, eight thousand feet high at the head of a valley. Barefoot friars huddled and prayed with their human and animal flocks inside the slate-roof buildings of the college as the silver mines flooded and thousands perished in the tunnels.

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  • Hailstones the size of grapefruits crushed the mud and timber breastworks of the rebels at Guanajuato and left them to be slaughtered by the soldiers of one-legged president Santa Anna . .

  • . .” Reading such prose is an experience.

    Blessed McGill by Edwin Shrake: A Short Review

    On my last visit to Killeen, Texas, Patrick Anderson, of Texas Overlooked Books,  strongly recommended I read a book by Edwin Shrake entitled Blessed McGill.  Respecting the opinion of my well-read, book-loving friend, I ordered the book from Barnes & Noble (J.M. Hardy Publishing). I found this a most enjoyable read, and if you like Texas history, you will too. A.C. Greene (the Dean of Texas Letters ) rated this book as one of the 50 best books on Texas.

    The novel is one of those you read that if you didn’t know it was a novel you would swear that it was a true story.  Edwin Shrake is a skilled writer. This novel has an edge to it, with a naturalistic style and strength that reminds me of Cormac McCarthy.  It is written in first person, and if you like chasing words and historical events, people, folklore,  and Native American information–including the border tribes, the Comanches, the Lipan Apaches–the novel is so rich in these details that  you will have a fine and rewarding time as Shrake takes you into terrain–both inner and outer–that you never dreamed existed.  The book is definitely a vocabulary builder. The themes are the eternal ones that never fail to move us, exploring dimensions of death, love, revenge, greed, and adventure that made it hard for me to put the novel down once I started. Shrake himself is a fascinating individual

    To close, there are so many great lines in the novel that I don’t know which to list, but here are a few:

    “My father told me that birth is real, death is real, and all between is a game.  It is hard to quarrel with that” (3).
    “Some time after that I had the pleasure of skinning Chinaman-face, who was alive when I began but of course did not survive the project” (55).
    “Boy,” my father said to me, “it is too nice a day to spoil it by beating you for your ignorance and lack of respect” (21).

    A Prose Poem by Jody McMaster

    Here’s a good poem  of the War Between the States, written by a good friend in the Nicholson (Ruston) SCV camp:

    Call to Arms

    As my eyes survey the haunting landscape set before me, my ears give a hearing to the late, ancestral cries for freedom. Cries to be liberated, cries for emancipation, and a cry for exemption from the absolution of the oppressive powers that bound once free men.

    A whole world interrupted. I see men lying in pools of blood. Their dying words still give cry even today in the hearts of Southerners alike. Deo Vindice! Deo Vindice! It is that blood-drenched soil that gives life to every living, breathing thing birthed from this our native “Dixie.”

    “Look there, do you see? Do you see the rebel soldier in his tattered vestments?” His battle-bruised body tired and weary from his seemingly endless journey. Yet victory is the life-blood that fuels his inner man. He can smell it, he can taste it, it is the task that has been set before him.

    The sound of the cannons roar past me as I close my eyes for a moment. Johnny Reb falls at my right, he falls at my left, all around me the ghosts of my forefathers once again fall to the lot of their final resting places. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I remind myself that this grassland is sacred, as I gently step.

    Step- over hundreds of lives. Lost to a cause that is dying. The same cause that gave birth to pride. A whole world that wanted only to exist in itself. In the boundless rows of cotton fields,  in the alleyways of the towering Oak trees, and in the life-giving blood that pumped through the veins of every man, woman and child “Dixie” called her own.

    I hear a different sound now. Reverberating through the honeysuckle, through the magnolias, and down through the corridors of time. It is “Dixie.” Rendering certain that she now cradles our lost loved ones in the warmth of her fertile, blood bought soil.

    It is the sweet sound of “Dixie” that they will forever hear. Resounding in the breeze that blows through the moss in the trees, and down through the hallways of every grand plantation still standing proud in all her glory! For she bore the backbone of this wonderful land; the Southern people.

    Let us never forget those whose lives were short-lived. Sacrificed. Lives given for this rich heritage that still runs through my veins, your veins. We are one; you know, me, you, and Johnny Reb? Listen for a moment- to the rebel yell. Can’t you hear it? Loud above all else! May it forever lead us into battle! God bless Dixie!

    Here’s a photo of Jody McMaster, the poet.

    Jody McMaster

    Jody McMaster

    The Santa Fe Expedition of 1841: A Poem by Rickey E. Pittman

    At my parents’ house, I watched again the three-part movie of Dead Man’s Walk. Though McMurtry’s novel is more accurate and interesting, I enjoyed the movie enough that I researched the Santa Fe Expedition and wrote this poem, which I hope to turn into a song for my Texas School programs. This is a first draft, so I’ll likely revise it in the future.  If you’re a Texan (or Texian, Texican or Tejano–yes, there are subtle differences in the words) I hope you enjoy the poem.

    “The Santa Fe Expedition of 1841”: A Poem by Rickey E. Pittman

    In the summer of 1841,
    President Lama had a vision,
    Texas wasn’t large enough,
    He sent the Santa Fe expedition.

    General McLeod and Captain Lewis,
    With 21 ox-drawn wagons,
    And 300 men left in June,
    With one old brass cannon.

    Spurred on by Lamar’s command,
    They walked toward Santa Fe’s trail,
    They didn’t know how far it was,
    Or that they were doomed to fail.

    There was a Comanche moon,
    When they reached the Llano Estacado,
    Lost in an endless sea of grass,
    There were no trails to follow.

    The Comanche and Apache
    Stole their horses at night,
    Would kill and scalp if they could,
    And the Texans feared they might.

    Deserted by their Mexican guide,
    Facing hardships from the weather,
    They  continued on a dead man’s walk,
    That seemed to last forever.

    Drinking foul badlands water,
    Eating what they could find,
    Their leaders made too many mistakes,
    And a strange madness filled their minds.

    They marched on in misery
    Till Santa Fe they found,
    They surrendered to the Mexicans,
    Without firing a single round.

    Governor Manuel Armijo
    Who had 1500 men,
    Promised them protection,
    So the Texans trusted him.

    But he marched them 2,000 miles,
    South to Mexico City,
    In chains and in sorrow,
    He drove them without pity.

    There were no maps to guide them,
    There were no well-laid plans,
    But we honor their sad footsteps,
    These brave and bold Texans.

    Minden’s Scottish Tartan Fetival

    Along with the superstars of the Scottish world mentioned on this flier, I’ll be storytelling and performing music at this wonderful festival. If you live in North Louisiana or East Texas, you need to be there! I’ve always had a great time there.

    Angus-Dubghall to Perform at the Arkansas Scottish Festival

    The 2010 Arkansas Scottish Festival April 23-25  2010 is a wonderful experience. Held on the beautiful campus of Lyon College, the oldest independent college in Arkansas (1872), is in the town of Batesville,  in North-central Arkansas. Tom & I were there last year and this year Mary is joining us.  Her fiddle and harmonies add so much to our music.  Last year we performed three times–twice on Saturday and once on Sunday, following Alex Beaton each time–and this year it looks like the same schedule. If you like Scottish things, this is worth attending. I made several new friends last year.

    Here is the link so you can explore the festival:

    Hope to see you there! If you have friends or relatives in the area, send them our way. We’ll dedicate a song to them (or to you).

    A New Song: “Welcome Home, My Son” by Rickey Pittman

    Last week, while driving to Texarcana to do my school programs, on Highway 71 outside of Shreveport, I saw a driveway all decorated up and a big sign that said, WELCOME HOME, SON. That and the memoir I’m editing for Mitchell Waite entitled, 400 Days in Iraq, inspired me to write this song. Let me know what you think of it. I may revise some of it later.

    “Welcome Home, My Son” by Rickey Pittman

    My tour in Iraq was over,
    And at last I was going home,
    The sun was setting to my left,
    As I drove on alone

    I came to my parents’ home
    On highway 71
    A sign stood by the driveway,
    Saying, Welcome home our son.

    A string of balloons and small American flags,
    danced in the Southern air,
    Yellow  ribbons were tied to trees
    And to the mailbox there.

    My dad met me at the door
    Grinning big as you please,
    My mother started crying
    The moment she saw me,

    After supper we took pictures,
    And talked till it was late,
    But we didn’t talk about the war,
    Or mistakes we all had made

    I lay down on an old bed,
    That I’d slept in as a child
    In days when life was simpler
    And I roamed free and wild

    I heard a lonely whippoorwill
    Owls, coyotes and Bob Whites
    But no rockets or rifle fire,
    Troubled me this night.

    Welcome home our soldier,
    Your tour of duty’s done
    You’ve been gone 400 days,
    Welcome home our son.

    The Orpheus Deception by David Stone: A Short Review by Rickey E. Pittman

    The Orpheus Deception by David Stone was a fascinating and surprising read. An audio book narrated by Erik Davis, the 12 CD kept me company on my recent road trips. It was a novel rich in details–in allusion and facts, in military weapons, tactics and equipment. From this novel, I learned much about the CIA, the British SAS, the Serbian mafia, the Italian Carabinieri, And the Sid of Singapore. Italy, and specific areas such as Venice, Florence, Singapore with its brutal dictatorship and unimaginably cruel Changi prison.  There is a wide spectrum of characters that paints a vivid picture of the human condition–the insane, victims of crime and government and circumstance, pirates, crime lords, politicians, and merchant marines. The dynamic and twisting plot reveals the price that people can pay when they love someone deeply.

    In short, I learned much more from this novel than I expected, and that means I have to give this novel a high rating, tinged with the envious hope that someday I will be able to write this well.

    It’s no wonder he can write so well on these topics. From his website, here (well worth exploring) I copied this short bio:

    DAVID STONE is a cover name for a man born into a military family with a history ofcombat service going backtoWaterloo.STONE, a military officer himself, has worked with federal intelligence agencies and state-level law enforcement units in North America, Central America, and South East Asia. Retired now, STONE lives in an undisclosed location with his wife, photographer and researcher Catherine Stone.
    I am eager to read Stone’s other novels and will probably order them this week.

    The Shadow of My Heart by Danielle Bisutti: Lyrics and Chords

    I saw the movie Shadowheart (read about it here) and heard this song, and I knew immediately I’d have to learn it. I downloaded it from iTunes and transcribed the lyrics. I’ve included those wonderful lyrics and the chords below.  You can read more about this beautiful singer here, and can see her perform the song on YouTube here: As far as I know, no one else has posted these lyrics. I hope you enjoy them. I did receive from Carol Piascik the correct lyrics, which she received from Bisutti. Thank you, Carol!  She does this in the key of B. I use G chords, with the capo on the fourth fret of my guitar.

    “Shadow of My Heart”
    written by Danielle Bisutti & Rob Christie
    ASCAP 2009 Copyright
    I still remember his words of goodbye
    A man must find his reasons and
    The seasons have gone by
    The church bells echo your ghost inside this canyon still
    I fear his fate but dear hold faith
    “Come back to me, a while”
    (Chorus 1)
    The Angels sing from mountains high
    A song of old through clear blue sky
    Their voices cry out while weʼre apart
    And warm the Shadows of my heart
    Revenge can summon the darkest knight
    Blinding noble kings masquerading wrong from right
    I dreamt you rose up from the ashes
    Bearing light as dawn fulfills
    Return to this place
    Redeeming grace
    “Come back to you, you will”
    (Chorus 2)
    The Angels sing from mountains high
    A song of old through clear blue sky
    Their voices cry out while weʼre apart
    And warm the Shadows of my heart.

    Here’s the chords:

    G                                     C
    I still remember his words of goodbye
    G D
    A man must find a reason and the seasons have gone by
    The church bells echo
    Your ghost inside this canyon still
    G D
    I fear his fate, but dear old faith,
    Come back to me a while
    C G
    The Angels sing from mountains high
    C G
    A song of old through clear blue skies
    Am7 (walk up to) C
    Their voices cry out while we’re apart.
    D G
    And warm the shadow of my heart.

    Here is a photo of the talented artist:

    Danielle Bisutti

    Danielle Bisutti