Cash's acclaimed first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home (William Morrow, 2012), takes its title from the last page (743) of You Can't Go Home Again. The book's epigraph, set on a separate page immediately preceding chapter 1, reads:
Something has spoken to me in the night ... and told me I shall die, I know not where. Saying:
"[Death is] to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth."
--Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
Cash also winks toward Wolfeans by having a major character named Ben, by mentioning a prostitute from Hot Springs called Miss Lillian (like Lillian Reed and Lily Jones in Look Homeward, Angel), and by having a minor character named Mr. Gant. The novel takes place mostly in the mid-1980s, so these characters have no direct connection to the Wolfe family in Asheville or to their fictional counterparts in Altamont. But these characters' names are shout-outs to fellow Wolfe readers by a novelist who appreciates Wolfe's work.
Terry Roberts's A Short Time to Stay Here (Ingalls, 2012) is set in the Madison County town of Hot Springs during World War I when the Mountain Park Hotel was used as an internment camp for German nationals. Roberts has two of his main characters, Stephen and Anna, make the short trip to Asheville for a funeral, and they end up spending the night at the Old Kentucky Home. During this trip they meet Julia and Fred Wolfe, as well as a local undertaker whom readers familiar with Wolfe will recognize as the rouge-wielding artist from Look Homeward, Angel. Stephen, in fact, physically prevents the undertaker from using the "mor tician's friend" to add more of his "artistry" to the face of a Madison County boy whose body will be shipped home that day (94-95). Later, Stephen encounters another denizen of Look Homeward, Angel--the "alcoholic Dr. Hugh McGuire" (249).
Another 2012 novel set in Hot Springs during the war, The Cove by Ron Rash (Ecco/HarperCollins), was brought to our attention by the late Jerry Leath Mills. Not long after the TWS meeting in Asheville, he wrote to advise that "W. O. Wolfe makes a cameo appearance in Ron Rash's new novel ... pp. 148-50." As with everything he wrote, the note that followed was concise and perceptive:
As the main antagonist, Chauncey Feith, a cowardly recruiting officer of great political ambition and devious means, walks the streets of Asheville in 1918, he seeks to fuel his fantasies of someday seeing a monument erected to himself by browsing among the wares in Wolfe's Tombstones and Monuments establishment. The stonecutter greets him at the door, introduces himself as W. O. Wolfe, and proceeds to comment grandiosely, in a rhetorical style similar to that usually ascribed to W. O. Gant by Thomas Wolfe, on war, mortality, and human aspiration, ending with a famous quotation: "'The paths of glory lead but to the grave,' the stonecutter said. 'It's a line from a poem'" (p. 150). Later, reflecting on the visit, Feith "wished he'd asked the stonecutter which lasted longer, marble or granite" (p. 151).
We will miss Dr. Mills's always well-written and insightful contributions to "Notes."
For detailed discussion of A Land More Kind Than Home, A Short Time to Stay Here, and The Cove, including analysis of additional Wolfean echoes in the novels, see George Hovis's essay on recent North Carolina fiction, pages 70-91 in this issue.
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|Title Annotation:||Notes; Wiley Cash's 'A Land More Kind Than Home' and Terry Roberts' 'A Short Time to Stay Here'|
|Publication:||Thomas Wolfe Review|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2012|
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