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Announcing The first part of the Internet edition of Trevanian's Street of the Four Winds will be available for download from 15th July 2005 here

Read Trevanian's
Letter to a librarian about The Crazyladies of Pearl Street
now in the shops

Crown publishers is also re-issuing the first five of Trevanian's earlier novels in their
Summer of Trevanian

Read some question and answer sessions from Trevanian's desk here

Trevanian's Desk/The Others/Prospero

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Dear Trevanian,

I wanted you to know that I greatly enjoyed “CrazyLadies of Pearl Street” and if you’ll pardon this rather lengthy e-mail, I’d like to point out just a few of the reasons why. Though I was born nearly a generation later, so much of your thirties experience hits home, as I’m sure it does with many other readers who were war babies. I’m referring to the cultural experiences, of course, not the poverty and sacrifice you went through. Even so, for years I’ve been fascinated with the thirties, captured mainly through its films, but apart from a few gems like “The Grapes of Wrath,” they don’t much reflect the quiet struggle that’s such a part of your story. The thirties might very well take the blue ribbon as our most painful decade of the 20th Century. Maybe it was our best and worst era as a nation?

At any rate, I feel yours is a story that connects not only with my experience, but it’s a work that connects across a whole culture we call American. Of course, the Cybernotes* add yet another rich dimension to the whole picture. I’d like to carry this a little further; I’d like to point out a few of these connections, so please forgive the intrusion while I charge on.

What vivid descriptions you have – I refer to a few among the dozens that delight: those Dickensian flourishes (without the sentimentality) … that portrait of Miss Cox, who as a type, though rare, I believe still survived in public-school classrooms in the 40s/50s … your family’s tensions and its struggle to survive (I can’t help seeing Jean-Luc as a depression-era David Copperfield) … the first-born, always made to feel overwhelmed and responsible for that “ship to come in.” Then there’s your keen eye for describing those “drama films” of your mother’s on Dish Night at the Paramount. And believe me you, your mother sure did have a way with words, yet I feel you tie it altogether in a tone without derision or smug condescension. And I can’t forget how spot on you are in your word picture for the “Jackson Strut,” which made me laugh out loud.

And there are so many more connections for this reader … As you cover your family tree it has a familiar ring to me, especially your mother’s French-Indian blood. My great-great-great grandfather Capt. John Hickey came from Ireland to N. Brunswick, Canada in the late 18th Century and married a LaPointe, a full-blooded Cree. (As you well know, the name LaPointe is quite common in French Canada.) Our native grand matriarch, Marquerite (Mary) Audet LaPointe, was born in Carleton, Quebec, hence a close proximity to our Irish clan in N. Brunswick. Most of our family were delighted that we actually had some “Indian blood” even though thinned out to 1/32 by the time it got down to my mother.

I sense even stronger connections from your Cybernotes when you refer to different jobs and drifting – and from the book, living above a bar in downtown Seattle with all those rejection slips, and your mother eventually ending up on a farm on Puget Sound. Here you’re on my home turf – I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where I had my share and variety of crappy jobs long before and many years after college. Truck driver, household mover, pulp and paper-mill worker in my late teens onward, longshoreman for a summer after college, among so many others, then for several years at age 37, a temporary clerical worker with a Ph.D.; this, after not getting tenure as an Asst. Prof. in Theatre and English at City Univ. of N.Y. when the city went bankrupt in the mid-70s, and I went through my wilderness years trying to make it as a freelance writer, eventually living in London and Los Angeles and finally back in the Seattle area. So your variety of work and the drifting, including your professorial duties, can’t help but sound familiar.

On going back to Pearl Street: It must have been very strange, perhaps even a poignant experience when you went back to that front stoop all those years later. Whenever I pass through my birthplace in Everett, WA – yes, host to the infamous 1916 Everett Massacre, I’m sorry to say – anyway, my old childhood in the Riverside district became ground-zero for a cloverleaf of the I-5 freeway running right smack through the place! Though the old neighborhood is still there just one block north, maybe it’s best to remember the old place through black and white photos, or better yet through the mind’s eye.

I like to think that “Crazyladies of Pearl Street” will end up a classic in some sort of novel-memoir genre. But I guess all that’s another story – maybe an academic one.

... There must be a lot of us hoping … no, expecting … that you’ll be around for a few more books. In the meantime, I plan to re-read “Shibumi” which I haven’t since it was first published. Of course, we Others will always be looking forward to more story games – maybe even an epic “Battle of Washington Park Hill”? Take care of yourself!

Yours truly,

Robert Ronning
AKA Prospero in Tucson

* Your Cybernotes are a delight to read as expanded parts of the text, of course, but on their own as well. Actually, as I read many of them, I was thinking how effective they would be as further expanded subjects in themselves for magazine pieces. As far as I know, that’s never been “your thing,” but somehow I feel sure there would be strong interest.

...back to the Others



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