So it felt like a gift, albeit a rather spooky one, to find this book by my bedside at Virginia:
Because what was the first name on the cover that caught my eye but one Marcia Guthridge. Of course, I turned straight away to her story, The Host. It's stunning - just listen to the first few lines:
"I've never understood about fishing and buffalo stomachs. I admit it freely. I am no cannibal. But there are connections between me and the world. I am not a cog. I am a bolt."
But what I like almost better are the author's own notes about writing the story. I'm going to let you have those in full because I think they're almost a narrative in themselves, whether you've read the original story or not:
"Years and years ago I caught a large kingfish off a party boat like the one in "The Host". I was so proud that I began to think of myself as a fisherperson, and I kept right on thinking that way through hot fishless days on other boats. At parties I talked as if I knew all about bait and tackle. I read Jimmy Carter's book on fly fishing; I watched the Saturday morning fishing shows on TV while my kids clawed at me, screaming for cartoons. Finally I realized that my kingfish had provided me not with an avocation but with one of those life-defining moments; and since it was beginning to look as if that mackerel was the only real fish I'd ever catch, I figured I'd better write a fish story. When I'd finished, it was just a silly little story about catching a fish: no challenge to Hemingway or Babe WInkelmann. So I decorated it with stuff about the Texas Gulf Coast and being married. I know it's nothing without the decoration, but to me it's a fish story."
How engaging is that? I have a serious writerly crush now on Marcia. Sadly, all I can find of her work is stories in anthologies, and my luggage is heavy enough already for more book buying, but I'm proud to hang out with her on the literature map. I think we could be friends!