On the 23 of September 2016, Alex Caldiero celebrates his 67th birthday. On the 27 of September he celebrates the birth of his new book Who Is the Dancer, What Is the Dance at Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City.

On the 23 of September 2016, Zarko Radakovic celebrates the birth of his novel Kafana / Tavern in Belgrade.

On the 23 of September 2016 Scott Abbott celebrates more than three decades of friendship with two extraordinary writers and in early October the birth of his own book.

These are friendships that invite literary collaboration, friendships that encourage and support, friendships that provide opportunities, friendships that demand good work.

That my book Immortal for Quite Some Time will appear almost simultaneously with Zarko’s Kafana and Alex’s Who Is the Dancer, What is the Dance is a special pleasure, a literary linking of three friends who are friends in spirit as well as letters.

This photo of a few of Zarko’s books reveals him as an emigrant/immigrant (two titles with the word emigracije), as intimately connected to extraordinary visual artists—the painter Knifer and the performance artist Era, and as a translator of and fellow traveler with Peter Handke (the blue book is Zarko’s translation of Handke’s The Moravian Night and the two books co-authored with me are responses to Handke’s work, traveling responses that took us into Yugoslavia before the wars and into Serbia between the wars.


In my copy of Zarko’s translation of The Moravian Night, he wrote these words of friendship:

Dear Scott, again and again we flow into Peter’s Morava, and again and again we flow out of it. Wherever this powerful, meandering body of water flows, we two, my dearest friend, will always accompany it . . . Your Zarko, Cologne, 29/4/2013


This photo of a few of Alex’s books reveals him as an emigrant/immigrant like Zarko (sonosuono takes him back to his birthplace and home for his first 9 years, Sicily), as a visual artist (all of the covers except for that of Some Love feature his work), and as a prolific poet (the dozens of chapbooks Alex has produced in addition to these books are breathtaking in their scope). Like Zarko, Alex is also a translator, in his case from Sicilian to English.


Inside my copy of his Some Love, one of the most beautiful books I have ever held/seen, Alex avowed our friendship and reminded me that I too am a maker/writer.

Sitting here at my desk I think that I too am an emigrant/immigrant. With the help of these friends from Yugoslavia and Sicily, I emigrated from my lonely self and immigrated into collaborative friendships.


How is it possible, I am thinking this morning, that over my own 67 years I have found such dear friends? A high-school friendship with Doug Moeller continues. My friendship with Steven Epperson that began in Princeton and included a joint essay we called “House of the Lord, House of the Temple”—still one of the favorite things I have ever published— continues across the distance between Utah and British Columbia. My friendship with Sam Rushforth has invigorated me for three decades and resulted in our book Wild Rides and Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes. And there have been many others.

I’m a fortunate man. And today I lift a glass to friendship, to dear friends.


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Serbian Authors: Stubovi kultura

A few hours ago Zarko sent me this photo of a gathering of authors in the lobby of the Belgrade publisher Stubovi kultura. “We are there too,” he wrote.


It takes some careful looking, but there are our portraits on the wall at the top left with our book between us. I’m in profile, Zarko half profile.

I open our second book with this publisher, Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary, and find my description of my introduction to this room and to the publisher (in the back with the beard):

I meet Žarko in front of the Hotel Moskva, and in the midday heat we make our way to the basement offices of Stubovi Kulture, formerly Vreme Knjige, the publishing house of our book: Ponavljanje – Repetitions.

Photos of all the authors published by Stubovi Kulture adorn the walls: Bruce Chatwin, Joseph Conrad, Anthony Burgess, Dragan Velikić, Danilo Kiš, Žarko, and myself.

Žarko introduces me to the publisher, Predrag Marković, a small man with a long, full beard and intense black eyes, and to Gojko Božović, editor for literature, a thin man who looks like he’s about 15.

Pleased to meet you, says the publisher. You look just like your photo.

What did you think I would look like? I ask.

All this time we’ve thought you were a fiction made up by Žarko for narrative purposes, the publisher explains.

Both of our books are now available in English translation with punctum books, Brooklyn. Find them here (among other works best described as “spontaneous acts of scholarly combustion”).

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Two Friends, Three New Books

Near the end of September, new books by my dear friends of three decades will appear.


The title Kafana means tavern or pub. The narrator sits at a table in the living room of his apartment, staring out the window and across the river where he sees a tall crane working in the sun, sees it as an animate running creature. Jasmina Vrbavac writes that the novel is “a valuable record of the unconscious, an entrance to the labyrinth of associations and thoughts that haunt the lucid author. . . . Along the way burglars steal the narration and become independent narrators.

David Albahari writes that the novel “is both an autobiographical account of the author as a storyteller who wants to leave no trace of himself in the text, a brief overview of the avant-garde authors during the second half of the twentieth century, and finally, the study of the ‘holy city’ of European culture, the pub, where in the same breath  a man can be put on a pedestal, and immediately afterwards reduced to mold and mud.”

Congratulations Zarko!

Published by the environmental humanities folks at Saltfront, Alex’s Who is the Dancer, What is the Dance, “is based,” the program of the Utah Humanities Council’s Book Festival program says, “on a pocket journal that poet Alex Caldiero kept with him during a six-day river trip on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon. In these poems, and the reproduced drawings that accompany, and often house, them, Caldiero explores how we simultaneously impinge upon, and give ourselves over to, a landscape. In these poems, our urban preconceptions falter and adapt to these places we call wild.”


Congratulations Alex!

That the two book are appearing almost simultaneously with my own Immortal for Quite Some Time is something only Carl Jung could explain.

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Excerpt from Immortal for Quite Some Time in 15 Bytes, Artists of Utah

SUNDAY BLOG READ is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. At least once a month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.

Today, 15 Bytes features Utah Valley University writer and professor Scott Abbott who here favors us with an excerpt from his Immortal for Quite Some Time, due out this month from the University of Utah Press. Of this non-fiction work which Scott bills a “fraternal meditation,” he writes, “My brother John died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 40. The most surprising thing I learned as I began to write about him was that you can’t describe your brother without describing yourself. And that can be uncomfortable, especially if you are a heterosexual, practicing Mormon.

“[Here, i]n fits and starts I sketch my versions of a lonely, funny, talented, hard-luck, bisexual, ex-Mormon and his ostensibly more stable brother. The former has no choice but to suffer this outing at the hands of his brother. And the latter, although he can choose what he discloses about himself, risks radical redefinition of a self constructed according to LDS guidelines by devout LDS parents.

“Wary of triumphant narratives that celebrate a writer’s courageous escape from a repressive culture, I add to my first-person account a critical female voice that questions my assertions and ridicules my rhetoric. Missing my brother, I move from the cold vision of autopsy to direct conversation during the book’s final sections.”

So curl up with your favorite cup of joe, and enjoy Scott Abbott’s work!


For the section “Incalculable Territory,” click HERE

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Jim Harrison, the ancient minstrel/mongrel

Started reading Harrison’s final book last night. He writes in the introduction that he was thinking of writing a memoir, an addition to an earlier one. “To be honest,” he writes, “which I am often not. . . .” And then family members demand to be left out. So, “I decided to continue the memoir in the form of a novella. At this late date I couldn’t bear to lapse into any delusions of reality in nonfiction.” He had troubles, he says, deciding on the title: minstrel? mongrel?

At the beginning of my Immortal for Quite Some Time, I claim that it is not a memoir, noting that the photos are as unreliable as the prose.

No delusions of reality in my nonfiction. And mongrels have better genes than purebreds.

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Immortal for Quite Some Time

has been in production for quite some time and the results are beautiful. Only a few weeks now!


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Intimate Fences

This morning Lyn and I sent our manuscript to the Texas A&M University Press. The editor of a series called “Connecting the Greater West” had seen parts of it and asked us to submit our work.


We’ve been working on the book for over five years. And today we’ll celebrate this step in the process.


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Peter Handke Documentary


Some stills from the film, and some interesting background.



Better (larger) images  and the whole series HERE

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Intimate Fences


Last night Lyn and I finished the latest draft of the entire book. We’re getting close. One more draft before the semester begins and we’ll be ready to send it out to potential publishers.

About 300 pages at this point. 95,000 words. Neither number reveals what a complex task this has been.

inimate fences

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Part I    

Constructing the Meaning of Barbed Wire in the Late Nineteenth Century

Chapter 1 

“Infernal Machines”: Newspapers and Magazines Debate the Meaning of Barbed-Wire Fences

Chapter 2 

“Secure and Safe Alike”: Legislative Challenges and Inventive Responses

Chapter 3  

“The Perfect Fence”: Selling Barbed Wire

Part II  

The Barbed-Wire Motif in Literature

Chapter 4

“Don’t Fence Me In”: Barbed Wire in the Western

Chapter 5 

“Intimate Fences”: Barbed Wire in the New West

Chapter 6

“The Thorny Fence”: Reifying the Religious Metaphor

Chapter 7 

“I Helped Him Build His Own Fences”: Native Americans Cut the Wire, Cut the Lies


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Locarno Film Festival: Premiere of a Film by Corinna Belz on Peter Handke


Peter Handke – Bin im Wald. Kann sein, dass ich mich verspäte… (Peter Handke – In the Woods, Might Be Late)
Germany · 2016 · DCP · Color · 89′ · o.v. German/French
The filmmaker explores the life and work of the Austrian novelist, playwright and political activist, Peter Handke. The titles of his books sound like the tunes in a jukebox: Offending the Audience and Other Spoken Plays, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick or A Sorrow Beyond Dreams. In the 1960s, he was the definition of a “pop star” author. Yet as soon as he started making the bestseller lists, he turned his back on stardom and went travelling, taking his readers along with him, dragging them into the rhythm and precision of his language and into his own examination of reality. As a young man, and still now, in his daily life, Peter Handke never stopped asking: “Where are we now?” and “How should we live?”

This film by Corinna Belz will premiere next week at the Locarno Film Festival. See further information here:

English subtitles by yours truly. Thanks to Zarko Radakovic for the introduction to Corinna Belz. My second film credit, after The Sonosopher, the brilliant documentary by Travis Low, Torben Bernhard, and Alex Caldiero.

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