Sunday, March 31, 2002

Here is another Lafferty page that perhaps gives a better introduction:
Great SF&F Works: Books by R.A. Lafferty
Those of you who are older, and widely read in obscure literary science fiction, will be sad to know that R. A. Lafferty has died. He was one of the few truly original stylists in the genre. A Lafferty story was as distinct in voice as a poem by Hopkins, another great Catholic eccentric. His writing was uneven, but at his best he could break your heart or crack your ribs with laughter, sometimes both at once. There is not much about him on the web. Here is the largest site I could find:
R.A. Lafferty: Devotional Site

Most of his work is out of print, or available only in small press pamphlets. If you want someplace to start, try "900 Grandmothers", a story collection, or "Past Master" a novel both absurd and touching, about what happens when an honest man is put into Utopia.
With the coming of coyotes to the Shenandoah, sheep farmers are turning to a variety of guard animals for protection. We use llamas. If sheep are a neglected subject in English verse, llamas are more so. Here, however, is an ecumenically "incorrect" poem on the subject by Hilaire Belloc:

The Llama is a wolly sort of fleecy hairy goat,
With an indolent expression and an undulating throat
Like an unsuccessful literary man.

And I know the place he lives in (or at least-- I think I do)
It is Ecuador, Brazil or Chile-- possibly Peru;
You must find it in the Atlas if you can.
The Llama of the Pampasses you never should confound
(In spite of a deceptive similarity of sound)
With the Llama who is Lord of Turkestan.
For the former is a beautiful and valuable beast,
But the latter is not lovable nor useful in the least;
And the Ruminant is preferable surely to the Priest
Who battens on the woful superstitions of the East,
The Mongol of the Monastery of Shan.
While the English literary tradition is chock full of pastoral themes, oddly, there is little verse directly on the subject of sheep. Here is a contemporary effort, courtesy of Ploughshares, the literary journal
Greetings on a rainy Easter morning. This site will contain periodic comments on things that interest me. I am a full-time prosecuting attorney in a small town in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia. I am also a part-time sheep farmer, living on property that has been in my wife's family for the past hundred years. The intersection of those two lives will provide most of the material for these posts. In addition to the weekly farm report, there will also be comments on books, music, movies, politics and religion. As to the last, I am a convert to Orthodox Christianity. Periodically I may try to share some of the wealth of that tradition. By doing this, I make no claims to special insight or sanctity. In describing my own spiritual condition, I can do no better than the little girl in Flannery O'Connor's story "Temple of the Holy Ghost"; "She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick."