The Angry Corrie 45: Apr-May 2000

TAC 45 Index

Golden TACky Awards

FOLLOWING the initial batch of nominations (TAC44, p14), some more outdoorsy ouches that somehow made it into print:

Kevin Borman writes: Here's a follow-up claim in the Longest Sentence category and beats Jim Perrin's feeble 134-word effort by a mile. It's from an essay entitled "The American Geographies", by Barry Lopez, published in Orion (Nature Quarterly) magazine, Autumn 1989. The sentence is also collected in Lopez's About this life - Journeys on the threshold of memory (Vintage, 1999) and is 344 words long (345 if "waist-deep" is counted as two words). For my money Lopez is our best writer by far in the field of people and our relationships with / philosophising about nature and environment, but even he has overstretched himself here. (He sure has. Is there a shortage of editors out there? - Ed.) Is it coincidence that Perrin visited Lopez and wrote about it in TGO October 1999? Maybe they have a secret thing going, a personal Long Sentence Competition which they haven't told us about.

"In the end, then, if one begins among the blue crabs of Chesapeake Bay and wanders for several years, down through the Smoky Mountains and back to the bluegrass hills, along the drainages of the Ohio and into the hill country of Missouri, where in summer a chorus of cicadas might drown out human conversation, then up the Missouri itself, reading on the way the entries of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and musing on the demise of the plains grizzly and the sturgeon, crosses west into the drainage of the Platte and spends the evenings with Gene Weltfish's The Lost Universe, her book about the Pawnee who once thrived there, then drops south to Palo Duro Canyon and the irrigated farms of the Llano Estacado in Texas, turns west across the Sangre de Christo, southernmost of the Rocky Mountain ranges, and moves north and west up onto the slickrock mesas of Utah, those browns and oranges, the ocherous hues reverberating in the deep canyons, then goes north, swinging west to the insular ranges that sit like battleships in the pelagic space of Nevada, camps at the steaming edge of the sulphur springs in the Black Rock Desert, where alkaline pans are glazed with a ferocious light, a heat to melt iron, then crosses the northern Sierra Nevada, waist-deep in summer snow in the passes, to descend to the valley of the Sacramento, and rises through groves of elephantine redwoods in the Coast Range, to arrive at Cape Mendocino, before Balboa's Pacific, cormorants and gulls, gray whales headed north for Unimak Pass in the Aleutians, the winds crashing down on you, facing the ocean over the blue ocean that gives the scene its true vastness, making this crossing, having been so often astonished at the line and the color of the land, the ingenious lives of its plants and animals, the varieties of its darknesses, the intensity of the stars overhead, you would be ashamed to discover, then, in yourself, any capacity to focus on the ravages in the land that left you unsettled."

Donald Shiach suggests an entry for the Slow to catch on award: Lots of examples of course, but my favourite is in The Big Walks (published 1980) which recommends accessing Killin via the railway station at Lochearnhead (closed 1963).

Inappropriate place description award

Hidden Places of Lancashire (Travel Publishing Ltd) for recommending Lancaster pub Ruxtons "for a quiet drink". None of TAC's staff have ever frequented this hostelry, but local lad Jon "Who are you looking at?" Sparks suggests the book's assessment is somewhat wide of the mark - especially since Buck Ruxton himself remains notorious because, to quote a more recent Lancashire man, he liked to "flippin' murder" folk.

Flimsy grasp of a foreign language award

Cameron McNeish, TGO May 1998 review of G J F Dutton's The Ridiculous Mountains:

"The tales also contain more than an element of preposterous behaviour; many of the adventures related are bizzare [sic] in the extreme, yet through the tears of laughter, through the mirth and joy there is a recognition, a deja vous, of experiences shared ...".

(And a special mention for a front page headline from the Stirling Observer, 7/7/99: "Lottery de javu for lucky Dollar Museum.")

TAC 45 Index