Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Mr. Clayhouse evolves

Billy's latest story is an astonishing improvement. A mill worker from South Carolina drives seven hours to visit his recovering daughter, a nineteen-year-old helicopter mechanic recently returned from Iraq where an IED ripped off half of her face. He sits outside her hospital room, face buried in his hands, unable to go in. Significantly, none of this is sensationalist or even melodramatic. It's difficult material, but Clayhouse pulls it off with his clipped prose. To keep himself from trembling, the father character recounts recipes from his long-dead grandmother, a half-black, half-Seminole woman who concocted miracles out of butchers' offal and whatever she could grow in the red clay garden of her sharecropper's shack. Incidentally, I copied several of the recipes (pork jowls, lard-fried greens) for my own collection as they are so similar to my mother's German delicacies. Any would be grand with a Riesling or, better yet, a Gew├╝rztraminer. I'm debating whether to send the story to an editor friend at a large East Coast magazine, but then he always warns me that I can be swayed through witnessing a student's improvements. It's best to put it in a drawer for a time and give it a fresh look. At the very least, it would be solid foundation for the student literary journal, a project with which I'm afflicted next semester.

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