Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Guns of Autumn Moss

"The moss don’t know it's dead yet."

He couldn't have been more than seventeen, that Confederate soldier with his back to a rock and his guts spillin’ into his hands. He'd been slumped there when we took shelter in the ravine, cold and still, his face as gray as his uniform. And so it surprised us somethin' awful when he opened his eyes and spoke.

"It clings to the bark," He continued, his voice a ragged whisper. "Just as green as yesterday, but frost came last night and that moss is dead where it dangles and the next strong wind will prove it."

General Grant's Yankee gunners had us pinned down in some godforsaken corner of a Carolina swamp. Being a Tennessee Boy myself, high-blue-mountain born and raised, I couldn't quite seem to poke square the notion with my reckon stick as to how anyone would want to live in a festering marsh, much less fight for it. But my momma only birthed two types of sons: Fighters and quitters. And Pa done buried all the quitters beside the beechnut tree. So when Lincoln went an' riled the Southern Sons I grabbed up my gun and joined 'em.

***

The preceding was an excerpt from Latigo Flint's NY Times Best-Selling Civil War epic, The Guns of Autumn Moss.

They said it couldn't be done. They said it was impossible. They said sweeping historical novels about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the American Civil War were over--that there weren't any more stories left. They added up all the books about the Civil War and the movies about the Civil War and plays about the Civil War and TV shows and TV-movies and radio programs and puppet shows and doodle-sketch flip-books and Internet video reenactments of the Battle of Gettysburg done entirely with Lego men... And the total came to one hundred and twenty-four thousand, six hundred and forty-two different Civil War stories.

Stories about the Yankees, stories about the Rebels. Stories told by women, stories told by slaves. Stories told by people who didn't care either way. Stories told from the point of view of the hound of a Confederate General whose mother was saved from drowning by the half-black daughter of a New York abolitionist.

Yeah, I may have made the last one up. But goddamn, you wouldn't bet your life on it would you?--not without checking first.

Anyway, they said there wasn't anything left to say--that you couldn't possibly tell another story about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the American Civil War.

But then Latigo Flint went and wrote The Guns of Autumn Moss and triumphantly proved them wrong.

And how did Latigo Flint do it you ask? Shrewdly, deftly, beautifully. That's the answer. Latigo Flint wrote lines of dialog like:
"The moss don’t know it's dead yet."
And he pulled from a deep well of savage poignancy, lines like:
But my momma only birthed two types of sons: Fighters and quitters. And Pa done buried all the quitters beside the beechnut tree.

Oh yeah, and there was one other thing... love. A whispering love. A love that dare not speak its name.

For the two central characters in Latigo Flint's sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the American Civil War... yep, they were gay lovers. One fighting for the North and the other for the South.

And I'm not so humble that I won't admit that it was a stroke of pure, unbridled genius. Why, the ink wasn't even dry on the pages of the first printing of The Guns of Autumn Moss, and already every single Critics Choice List was saving its top slot for it.

But now some people are trying to ban it. They're trying to ban The Guns of Autumn Moss. It's the epic-est, sweeping-est, historical-est novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the American Civil War ever written and they're trying to ban it out of existence.

So if you visit your local bookshop and can't find a single copy of The Guns of Autumn Moss, then most likely they've already been there and have succeeded in banning it.

But that doesn't mean I didn't write it. That doesn't mean it never was.

And so I leave you now with another excerpt from The Guns of Autumn Moss.

***

Davy died screaming on the tip of a Yankee bayonet. I was on my way to save him but the hot, jagged teeth of blue coat canon fire tore my face apart. It delayed me a bit. Like canon fire does. I staggered to my feet but was too late to save Davy. I'd marched through a thousand miles of swampland with this man. We'd shared weevil-riddled rations. He'd cracked the jokes that kept me sane. We'd forged the bonds of friendship that are impossible to fathom until you've slept back-to-back in frozen mud, cold, bleeding and hungry.

I couldn't save Davy, but I sure as hell could avenge him. I spun his Yankee murderer around and raised my blade for the kill. And there beneath the navy brim of a sweaty Union Soldier's cap were the green eyes of Claudio--the boy I never thought I'd see again.

"Hello Johnny." Claudio whispered.
"Hello Claudio." I replied.

The battle raged all around us but it couldn't half-equal the war Claudio and I fought deep in each other's eyes.

***

The Guns of Autumn Moss -- a sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption set against the bloody backdrop of the American Civil War.
-by Latigo Flint

Coming nowhere soon to a bookshop near you.

6 Comments:

At 8:12 AM, Blogger tangled said...

Oh, why.
And I don't even live in that country :(

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous The Macek Collective said...

I feel both intrigued and dirty for liking this.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous ATD said...

What about your other sweeping epic about the Civil War? About that boy who smiled at otters? Does he get a cameo in this one?

?~ATD

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Ari said...

See? That's what an evening of Ken Burns, 29 Coors longnecks all in a row and "Twinks Gone Wild" gets ya.

If this story were anything like Cold Mountain (the book), though, it'd be worth all the gayness to see. I cried for 3 days. And revelled, nay, delighted in the sobbing at the death of a bygone age of honor.

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous ellinor said...

Someday, Latigo, someone will set the Guns of Autumn Moss to music. It will be an underground hit in all the underground bars, and people will cry in their hearts when they hear the tale.

And on that epic day, well then won't *that* show *them*.

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

Please don't be sad Tharunya. Perhaps someday you will.

An acceptable reaction Macek. An acceptable reaction.

I'm sorry ATD, the sweeping historical novel about love, anguish and redemption of which you speak was actually set against the bloody backdrop of the French and Indian War. For want of better research Sir. For want of better research.

You truly understand Ari. That's no small thing. Not to me.

That sounds like a very good day Ellinor. Is it tomorrow? Tell me it's tomorrow.

 

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