Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines
|Photo (c) by Doris McCraw
I recently came across the phrase 'talking with the dead'. Initially, I thought it sounded rather morbid until I thought about what it was really about. To me, it's connecting with the past in ways we might not think about. This also follows an earlier post about what inspires your stories. For those who would like to take a look at that post, here is the link: What Inspires Your Stories
The second post on inspiring stories: Talking with the Dead- Photographs
The third of what I include for inspiration is Cemeteries: Talking with the Dead - Cemeteries
Part four: Talking with the Dead - Newspapers
This fifth and last post in this series is about books. Perhaps the first book you think of is Edgar Lee Masters work "Spoon River Anthology". This book is literally people talking to you from their graves. This work is the epitaphs of the residents of Spoon River telling their tales to the reader. I confess I've read it many times. It typifies small-town life and it doesn't hurt that the author lived not far from where I grew up. The stories the residents tell I can relate to. If you are interested you can download a free version of the book here: Spoon River Anthology - free ebook - Gutenberg
However, I am referring to books in a broader sense. The classic Westerns we love are the authors talking to us, telling us how they perceived the area they wrote about. For some, it was based on actual events they observed or took part in. For others, it was retelling the stories they grew up with or read about.
There is also the diaries and snippets contained in various books that have been published over time. Helen (Hunt) Jackson wrote about the life and people she observed as she traveled. Her work, "Bits of Travel at Home" is an enlightening read. Published in 1878, Helen's essays are an on the ground view of train travel, city growth, and people who caught her eye. You can download the book here: Bits of Travel at Home or perhaps "Century of Dishonor", first published in 1881 chronicling the Indian's treaties with the government. You can download the free book here: Century of Dishonor
The "Covered Wagon Women" series of books uses letters and diaries to tell the story of the trek west. Or perhaps Isabella Bird's book about her travels in the Rocky Mountains. "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" published in 1879, is a fascinating read, as Isabella recounts her journies through Colorado. You can download the Gutenberg project ebook here: A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
These and many more books have given me numerous pieces of information on life during the time I write on. They have inspired ideas that become short stories or novels. So when I talk and write about 'Talking with the Dead', I am referring to the wealth of information those who came before have left us.
Here's to the story inspired by the past. Here's to those who keep the Western alive with tales taken from pieces of history. Here's to the next book or anthology celebrating our shared past.
May you all have the best remainder of November possible. Please stay safe and well. I look forward to your next story.
Colorado and Women's History