One of the best rewards for writing the George R. Stewart biography and creating this weblog is the community of Stewart people who follow it. At the last count, there are followers in roughly 60 countries. This week, we’ve had visitors from the UK, France, Morocco, India, and the US.
Some of those visitors leave comments, and I can begin to put a face on those people. A few, like Christopher Priest, are well-known, most simply Stewart aficionados . But all of the comments are interesting, and all of the visitors who comment enrich this work.
At times, one of the visitors will point out some new GRS treasure. Ross Wilson Bogert, for example, who has become a good friend, brought the Wilson family into our dialogue – Stewart’s mother was a Wilson – and donated an exceptional 1929 film of Stewart and his parents at the Wilson house in Southern California.
One theme that comes from reading the thoughts of others is the current rediscovery of George R. Stewart’s remarkable work. Although GRS seems not to be widely-known to the mainstream publishing/literary establishment, articles are being written about him, there are new reviews of his books and his work, and his ideas are being included in others’ work. One example is the one being discussed today, thanks to Joe Livak.
Joe sent a comment last week about a new book which examines Stewart’s STORM from new points of view. The book, SNOWBOUND, by Mark McLaughlin, is available on McLaughlin’s website. Joe heard Mark speak about the book in Reno.
McLaughlin, who studied cultural geography at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a prolific author and frequent public speaker on topics relating to the history of the Lake Tahoe region. He’s published hundreds of articles and several books, and regularly presents talks at various local groups, to high praise.
McLaughlin’s new book describes the ten greatest storms to hit the central Sierra Nevada. On pages 58 to 60 McLaughlin takes a close look at Stewart’s STORM, digging into real events which he believes were likely inspirations for Stewart’s ground-breaking novel. McLaughlin also describes a couple of other storm-related tragedies, which had military connections but which Stewart does not include, speculating that he did so to respect the privacy of the families of the victims and also to protect military secrets. McLaughlin fleshes out his GRS pages with images of the front pages of local papers describing the events.
My only small disagreement with his book is the idea that Stewart has been forgotten – that’s only true for the “establishment” mentioned earlier. Earth Abides, in particular, never out of print, is in 20 languages and is now slated to become a mini-series. It enjoys healthy sales to this day. Other GRS books are honored by other authors, like William Least Heat Moon, who devotes one section of Roads to Quoz to Stewart’s U.S. 40. U.S. 40 is also honored by Larry McMurtry in Roads. And the mother’s Fourth of July speech in Ivan Doig’s English Creek was inspired by Stewart’s Names On The Land.
Slowly, GRS is returning to the attention of the public, and books like McLaughlin’s are a major step in that new awareness. Hopefully, the “establishment” will soon have a re-awakening of interest in the work of George R. Stewart.
Thanks to Joe Livak for pointing us to McLaughlin and his work.
For more information about Mark McLaughlin and this book, click the image below.