From Immortality to Barbed Wire

So, my book Immortal For Quite Some Time is now in the publisher’s hands. Here is the penultimate paragraph of the book. It points to the next book and at the same time reprises the themes of sexual purity, aggression against homosexuals, religion, family, control, and desire that I explore in Immortal:

Lyn and I have work to do as well. Most pressing is our interdisciplinary book about barbed wire, “Intimate Fences.” In the late nineteenth century, barbed-wire advertisers promised protection from marauding savages, rapacious ex-slaves, and homosexual aesthetes like Oscar Wilde: “Glidden barbed wire is ‘death on dudes.’” And barbed wire quickly became a literary motif. Steinbeck’s Jim Casy, for example, quits preaching because women riled up by his sermons whip themselves with a “three-foot shag of bobwire.” Flannery O’Connor’s Hazel Motes, in contrast, wraps barbed wire around his torso because, he says, “I’m not clean.” We’ll end the book with Annie Proulx’ story in which Ennis drives to Jack’s parents’ ranch to ask for the ashes he wants to spread on Brokeback Mountain. Jack’s father refuses: “’Tell you what, we got a family plot and he’s goin in it. . . .’ Bumping down the washboard road Ennis passed the country cemetery fenced with sagging sheep wire, a tiny fenced square on the welling prairie.”

The final photo of Immortal will be of this watercolor John did in high school:


About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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