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

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at
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