Harding-Jones, Celyn M.
Souvenirs of a Forgotten Highway.
Masters thesis, Concordia University.
- Accepted Version
Souvenirs of a Forgotten Highway contributes to the tradition of Western literature by depicting contemporary people struggling to find balance in the extreme desert landscape; they are beset by the consequences of the rise, fall and sustenance of the Cowboy myth. The novella is inspired from personal experiences living in the Sonoran desert, and encouraged by Jack Spicer’s Billy the Kid and B.P. Nichol’s The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid. Just as William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is haunted by the Old South, my characters are tormented by whispers of Owen Wister’s The Virginian and Theodore Roosevelt’s Frontier myth. Cormac McCarthy’s modern take on the West’s violent past in Blood Meridian cannot be escaped. Provoked by Michael Ondaatje’s fragmented form in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, my thesis collects various storytelling techniques such as rumours, TV guide schedules, real crimes, and Native American tales mirroring the historical influence the West has had on literature, and the effect literature had on creating the Cowboy myth.
Set in a hamlet in rural Arizona, nine year-old Christina is trapped in wide-open spaces, and attempts a dangerous escape. Maria, her mother, is isolated, sun-beaten, and holed-up her trailer. Sam is perpetually overwhelmed with the long list of lives he must “fix”. Lucy faces bringing a baby into a dysfunctional world. Jerome finds that he has run out of space to hide in, tormented by his urge to run and a troubled past. Even the rain is rejected by the desert, creating disaster for those who live in it.
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