I have a short (for me) Playlist this week. But I'm very excited about these distractions and recommend each highly.
Bold Spirit: Helga Etsby's Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America. Linda Lawrence Hunt.
With her family in danger of losing its Washington state farm, Helga Etsby came across an interesting wager from a mysterious sponsor on the East Coast. The sponsor would pay $10,000 to a woman to walk across America. There were strict rules set on the trip -- the woman could leave with only $5 and had to earn her way across the country. And there was a time limit on the trip. In May of 1986, Etsby, with her teen-aged daughter Clara, left behind her injured husband and eight other children, and set off on the trip.
Remember: This was a time when the US, particularly out West, was sparsely populated. The dangers included bears, lions, snakes, not to mention unsavory men. Then you had the weather to deal with -- floods, snow, fires. And they'd be doing at least the first part of their walk in Victorian dresses. And this was an era where women taking long walks or doing any type of physical exertion was considered dangerous.
Bold Spirit is an amazing and inspiring true story - one that Helga planned to write about upon her return to Spokane. So why were Helga's notes destroyed? Why is that nobody in Helga's family ever talked about the trip once she returned? And why is it that the story would've disappeared completely were it not for her granddaughter?
Hunt's 2003 book, winner of the Washington State Book Award, captures the political and cultural world of the late 19th century, particularly the growing women's movement. It also dives into family dynamics, how people get beyond tragic and hurtful events.
And while talking about big treks, check out GOOD Magazine's Wanderlust -- an interactive feature tracing the world's greatest journeys from Magellan to Kerouac. Unfortunately, Helga isn't trip isn't in the feature, but it's worth checking out nonethelss.
McSweeney's Quarterly. Issue 27
This was one of the best McSweeney's quarterlies in a while. It came as three individual books:
-- A sketchbook by graphic novelist Art Spiegleman.
-- A collection of very funny (and quite odd) comic art.
-- And, finally, a book, of course, of several short stories, including powerful tales by Mike Jollett and Ashlee Adams. And it ends with Stephen King's In a Tight Place, which might have you thinking before you enter another port-a-john.
Speaking of Stephen King and short stories ... his unpublished short story "N" is currently being made available via an "episodic graphic adaptation" on the Web. I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but if you're a King fan, check it out -- Stephen King's "N".
Sun Giant EP. Fleet Foxes.
The Fleet Foxes' self-titled full-length debut is earning numerous kudos for its mesmerizing Beach Boys harmonies and the laid-back Southern California circa 70s feel. This EP, which came out earlier this year, preceded that release, but plays by much the same rules. If you like any of the aforementioned comparisons or the more mellow side of My Morning Jacket, you'll love this beautiful EP.