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16 September 2010

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Sidney O. Smith III

Great read. Thanks.

I look forward to re-reading your first novel and reading your second novel after I gain a decent historical foundation via Foote and a few others.

Maureen Lang

Pat,

So glad you posted "Sharpsburg" over @ The Athenaeum- when I read it last night I was hoping you would.

As I said in my email response to you, you've really honed that uncanny ability you have to get right down into the mud & blood with these characters, gauge their interpretations of events surrounding them, their reactions to it all. Damn fine piece of writing.

-Maureen

William R. Cumming

What I love about Pl's writing is its insights into the personal dynamics of those high and low in the whirlwind that was the Civil War. The fog of war is made clearer by your writing about that huge event in the formation of the American character. Thanks for the effort.

Patrick Lang

WRC

Thanks for the ringing endorsement. pl

Sidney O. Smith III

Col. Lang,

In my opinion, the more you reveal the humanity and heroism of the character C.D., the more you will challenge the assumptions held by most of your readers. Revealing certain assumptions as illusions is one of the functions of art in general and, more specifically, literature. And the particular assumptions that an artist challenges is dependent upon the time in which the artistic creation takes place.

Your task looks like a mighty one to me, in part because most of your readers are from the baby boomer generation and later. The Woodstock -- Doris Kearns Goodwin crowd is uncomfortable facing up to characters like CD. If they did open up to someone like CD, then their feel good assumptions about the WBS would fall apart, and the Goodwin crowd suddenly could no longer see themselves as the enlightened ones and, moreover, they could no longer continue to believe the “other” was intrinsically evil.

As a result, you are not only challenging certain very shallow historical assumptions , but also you are attempting to break a denial mechanism that is part and parcel of the American pathos -- one that has become increasingly intransigent with the passage of time from the WBS. So odds are high some people will ignore the character of CD or, just as likely, deeply resent him.

Some, including progressives, unconsciously may want to see him crucified. Wouldn't surprise me if a few (progressive?) Catholic priests would want to see his character crucified as well. Such is consistent with Church history (and I say that as someone who feels more than content to have experienced a Catholic conversion).

My guess is that many people would want to the see the CD character in a way that enforces their assumptions, in other words, CD is a completely evil person, a greyback. They want to see CD much like the Southern speaking character in the film Avatar or the USN captain of the USS Alabama in the film, Crimson Tide, that is the one who portrays evils. Such a conventional and overly simplistic approach makes the 21st century reader (or viewer) feel good about the trajectory of American nationalism and enforces assumptions that are prevalent during this time in American history.

But, as your work is proving, these assumptions upon which so many rely upon to perceive America are superficial and do not rest on absolute truths. In fact, these assumptions engender a type of hubris that may lead our nation to catastrophe. The character CD reveals this type of American hubris at work in the American psyche. So it is entirely possible, if not likely, that history will vindicate your work, and it will gain in popularity with the passage of time.

(CD also challenges some rather tiresome assumptions held by many 21st century Southerners but I have run

Patrick Lang

Sidney

I have been unmasked pl

WILL

very well written. i guess even robert edward lee's victories were Phyrric b/c he could not make up his losses.

The little Napoleon's immediate replacements did not do better. Burnside suffered a catastrophic defeat at Fredricksburg. And Hooker lost his nerve at Chancellorsville even though he had every advantage.

Vicente

My favorite piece of American fiction - short or long - to this day is also one set in this period: Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."

I admire those like yourself sir, who can muster the discipline required for effective short fiction. I am not there yet.

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