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Welcome To Saint Angel excerpts in this font
William Luvaas quotes from Email Interview with CRC Blog on June 18, 2018 in this font
CRC Blog on William Luvaas’s
Welcome To Saint Angel
“Home: A Well of Everlasting Chances”
Anaphora Literary Press published William Luvaas’s environmental fiction novel Welcome To Saint Angel on March 15, 2018, with book design by Anna Faktorovich, PhD. and copy editing by Clare MacQueen.
Luvaas has published three other fiction novels: The Seductions of Natalie Bach by Little Brown; Going Under by Putnam; and Beneath The Coyote Hills by Spuyten Duyvil. He’s also published two short story collections: A Working Man’s Apocrypha by University Oklahoma Press and Ashes Rain Down: a story cycle by Spuyten Duyvil.
Anaphora Literary Press describes Welcome to Saint Angel as “a dead-serious comedy about development gone mad and townsfolk’s – sometimes lethal – battle to protect their precious rural community from bulldozers and climate change deniers. Part environmental fiction, part social satire, it speaks to exurban sprawl and the heedless development of fragile natural areas – and to the value of community, another endangered species.” (Left-Box of Welcome to Saint Angel copies attributed and copyright granted by William Luvaas)
They were building huge housing tracts everywhere: ugly identical houses crowded together cheek by jowl out there in the wide open spaces, no landscaping, no soul. It was painful to watch our peace and space being violated, the owls and coyotes chased off, olive and palm trees cut down.
Naturalist and preservationist and resident Al Sharp refuses to sell his lands right and water rights despite the pressure from Ches Noonan and his cronies. Soon Al’s friends join him in the fight: Soboba Indian married couple Sage and Wynona Littlefeather, Sam Jenson, Jesus freak Rob Thompson, Mexican-American computer hacker Tinkerspoon, and Vietnam Vet Little Lester.
Al Sharpe, the co-narrator of Welcome to Saint Angel, has had a life of losses – one of which is the loss of his wife first to her lover and then to her death in an airplane crash. The one thing that saves Al Sharpe is their daughter Finley whom Al Sharpe christened after his favorite novel Finnley Wren by Philip Wylie.
Finley and I slept in a tent those first three months, while I salvaged what I could from the house and redid the roof and interior of an adobe cottage with two-foot-thick-walls built by some early mestizo squatter far back off the road. I christened the place “Second Chance Acres.”
“Second chance for what, Daddy?”
“For doing it right this time. To be self -employed and avoid relationships where I’m considered comic relief, to love you as much as two people combined.”
The one thing that Al has at Second Chance Acres that is more valuable than gold and money is water – in the form of his own well – one of the few wells that are not in the control of the greedy developers. Al describes his well as having its living source from below his own ground, deep in the ocean, which has been drinking snowmelt from the mountains for millions of years. (Above Left: diagram attributed to schillerinstitute.org. Fair Use)
Fossil water. It tastes like time, our water. Mine, one of the few remaining wells in the valley that doesn’t belong to the major ranchers and land magnates (which is to say Ches Noonan and Cal Hale and associates) or wells on the rez.
Saint Angel is not my formal name as you will find it on the map, but I prefer it. In 1864, J. Mayberry Haynes stood up on the mountain with his party of Indian scouts and San Francisco entrepreneurs and declared, “What you see below us, boys, is the Valley of Angels.” He christened me Santa Rosa de Los Angeles. Indians in the rancho days, watching their horses sicken and die after drinking from my black soughs, named me “La Cienega del Diablo.” Devil’s Swamp. Sam Jenson calls me Saint Ain’t. By whatever name, I am a high desert town – and the valley wherein it lies- of 12,000 souls (at story’s outset), nearly 50,000 at mid-point), diminished to 8,000 at the end. All within the space of two hectic years.
I wake to Finley leaning over my bed. “I missed you, Dad. I missed Second Chance Acres. They’ve like totally trashed it.” Her voice convulses in a sob.
“Where have you been?” I ask my daughter. “I’ve been worried sick about you.”
“Doing something stupid, okay, brackishly stupid. I’m over that now.”
I take her hand. “We haven’t spent all our chances yet. Not by nearly.”
In the end Welcome to Saint Angel is about home – something every human being, plant, creature, and landscape needs in order to abound. “Yes, the book is definitely about home and how precious it is to us, how threatened we feel when someone infringes on it. Maybe it’s partly our territorial instinct, because we are animals, after all. All animals protect their nests. (Left: This image of William Luvaas and Mimi is given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas for this CRC Blog entry only.)
As Robert Frost said , (Left) “Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Something we can’t be denied. Our safety zone, our welcome zone where we can be exactly who we are, as we sometimes can’t out in the world. We enter the front door after a tense day and relax. Home can be a simple shack or a mansion. Or we may even refer to a town, state, or country as home. “I call Oregon home.” “Maryland is my home state.” “I’m a New Yorker.” It’s also a way of seeing things. My work is always colored by where I live at the time I’m writing. The atmosphere of the place bleeds over onto the page.
It only seems fitting to end this
piece with the last paragraph of the last page because it is this excerpt that Luvaas found the most emotional and compelling to write: (Left: this image has been given copyright permission by Lucinda Luvaas to be used for this CRC Blog entry only)
So we are back to normal again here in the Kingdom of The Excessed. Waiting, Rob Thompson says, for the next onslaught. I disagree with him. Disaster is never inevitable. We go about life in our separate ways which tangle together in a single ravel, one strand inextricably linked with the others. We are never isolated, never fully alone. So I believe I speak for all of us when I say, If you ever pass Saint Angel way and think of visiting, you’d be more than welcome.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS PIECE:
A Working Man’s Apocrypha
Anaphora Literary Press Facebook
Anaphora Literary Press Web Page
Ashes Rain Down: a story cycle
Beneath The Coyote Hills
Sammy Corrado IV
Lucinda Luvaas Facebook
Lucinda Luvaas Web Page
William Luvaas Facebook
William Luvaas Web Page
The Seductions of Natalie Bach
University Oklahoma Press
Welcome To Saint Angel
Leonard Kelly Young
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