Damon Falke is an American writer living in northern Norway. His work includes, among others, By Way of Passing, Now at the Uncertain Hour, and Laura, or Scenes from a Common World. Much of his work considers relationships between memory and the present, particularly as they are expressed through objects and landscapes. In addition to writing, he has lived and traveled broadly, both as a traveler and a sportsman. Greece, Nepal, Tibet, Tasmania, Hungry, New Zealand, Slovenia, East Texas and the American West have, in different ways, touched his work. Concepts of place and places themselves are essential to his writing for what they speak of history and of the stories we keep. His half-acre in the far north is a good location for finding these things and for looking out of the kitchen window.
Here we are at the end of March, and I am thinking about December. Well, not really December. I am thinking about town and how I sometimes go there to write.
Town can be a location and an idea. In the movie Pale Rider after Spider Conway finds an enormous gold nugget, he tells his two sons to get the wagon ready, “they’re goin’ to town.” The boys are ecstatic. They look at each other in near disbelief, repeating, as if grasping for reality, “We’re goin’ to town! We’re goin’ to town!” Town, in this case, is an event. In the movie, Jeremiah Johnson, after Jeremiah re-unites with Del Gue, Jeremiah is attacked by a Crow warrior. Jeremiah survives the attack, but Del is shaken and concerned for his friend. He says to Jeremiah, “Maybe…maybe you best go to a town and get out of these mountains.” Jeremiah responds, “I’ve been to a town, Del.” For Jeremiah, town marks the end of something. Ultimately, town marks the end of something for Spider Conway and his sons, as well, given that Spider is ruthlessly gunned downed by Marshall Stockburn and his six deputies. His sons, in turn, must bear their daddy’s pelted body back to the mining camp.