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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#Winesburg and Wrath by John von Daler


                 "Little tiny #Winesburg! Forget it! That's nowhere!"
                 My roommate was from Ohio. He was a good-natured person with a lot of room for taunts and jests. G was writing a paper on Winesburg, Ohio. #Sherwood Anderson was the brunt of a lot of our jokes. We would kid around about his small towns, his middle west and other embarrassments to the metropolis of our minds, but we talked little about my Oklahoma background. The Grapes of Wrath was hardly mentioned. Only Winesburg. How could anything be so small and still worthy of our attention?
                Twenty years later, after a period of teaching various forms of American literature at Copenhagen University, I turned musician. On tour this meant a lot of wandering in shops in small towns. In a book bin in a town in Jutland I happened on a copy of Winesburg, Ohio and thought, oh, well, why not.
                Reading Anderson was a revelation. The book is sophisticated, the characters universal, the women as well-drawn as the men, the stories classic and beautifully written. "Hands" and "The Untold Lie" are unsurpassed. I stood some place in Jutland and sent an unaddressed apology to Anderson and to G.
                Funny, though. Shortly after my meeting with Anderson, I went to a recording session. The cellist for the day was an American from California now living in Sweden. He asked where I was from and I said #Oklahoma. He started laughing right away and kept on giggling from then on every time he glanced my way.
                Talk about reaping the grapes of wrath!

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