Thursday, March 12, 2015

"In Wilderness"

Diane Thomas is the author of the psychological thriller In Wilderness and The Year the Music Changed: The Letters of Achsa McEachern-Isaacs and Elvis Presley. Her favorite setting for her stories is in the mountains of north Georgia, but she loves reading a good yarn set most anywhere.

Thomas applied the Page 69 Test to In Wilderness and reported the following:
From page 69:
Her little cabin has the simple, functional beauty of a thing created over time with loving care, a life's work. Even the knobs on the storage cabinets take into account the grain of their wood. The trestle table and its benches, though perhaps crafted more hurriedly, show a similar sensibility and belong here in this place. The same holds true for the "few good things" she brought. Even the seed packets belong, as they gleam from the mantel. She stares at them a long while, then gets up and brings them to the table. A dozen lovely envelopes, each different and all chosen by a random sweep of her hand. Even the backs are pretty, with their pastel diagrams of planting zones. Her cabin is in zone seven.

She fans out the envelopes, arranges them by the colors of their vegetables: parsley, kale, broccoli, green bell peppers, sage, cabbage, lettuce, turnip, yellow summer squash, golden winter squash, carrots, beets.

If their names make a litany, their various planting directions are a poem:
Plant in late winter,
Sow after the last frost.
When the ground is warm to touch.
In full sun.
In partial shade.
In small hills.
Scatter soil one-eighth inch.
Water in.
Thin at two inches.
Harvest at sixty days.
Ninety. One hundred twenty.
Let the ground lie fallow until spring.
At the start of In Wilderness, in the winter of 1966, 38-year-old Katherine Reid, who is suffering from a mysterious wasting disease, is told to get her affairs in order because she has at most six months to live. She retires to an isolated cabin deep in the southern Appalachian Mountains to live out her remaining days. Once there, she finds she is not dying according to schedule. Indeed, after a month she feels not worse but better, well enough to engage with her surroundings and seek out ways to fill her time. (She has yet to meet the troubled young man who even then spies on her obsessively and will soon make himself known to her, capture her heart and threaten her very life.) The seeds she contemplates on page 69 were purchased on an angry whim before she reached the cabin. The poem ends on page 70, after which she decides she will plant a vegetable garden.
Visit Diane Thomas's website.

Writers Read: Diane Thomas.

--Marshal Zeringue