Monday, May 26, 2014

Tony Hillerman

From Tony Hillerman's 2008 Q & A with Gregory Lalire:

What did you read as a boy?

Everything I could get my hands on.… We had the state library. If you wrote them a letter, they would send you a list of books and then you'd send them a list of what you wanted to check out and money to cover the postage. I'd be asking for War and Peace, or cowboys and Indians, combat, war stuff, aviation. I still remember opening the first package and pulling out History of the Masonic Order in the West. Then there was Recovery of the Cotton Industry in South Carolina. Stuff like that. But I read them.

What made you want to write?

Well, I always enjoyed reading.… I got in the Army, got in a rifle company…well, everybody in my company decided when the war was over we were going to circulate a petition, ask Congress to abolish West Point, tear down all the West Point buildings, salt the ground so it wouldn't spring back up and then get Congress to enact a Constitutional amendment banning people who could not pass a fourth-grade intelligence test from gaining a commission in the United States Army.

We had been screwed up by West Point officers. We were at a little town in France, close to the German border. The Germans held the other side of the stream, and we held our side. And the West Pointers decided they wanted us to go to the other side and capture two Germans.… We got ready to go, and they called it off. The next morning, they decided we would go that night. By now, everybody on both sides knew we were going over there. We got up to the front, and one of the guys said: "Surely you're not going over there. The Germans have been working all day—we've been watching them—and getting ready for you guys."

Boy, were they ready. We just got the hell kicked out of us. I got blown up in a barnyard. The first guy who carried me back got shot, but the next guy dumped me in the creek. Anyway, I got back. I couldn't see much—the Army still rates this eye as blind—both of my knees were broken, and my left foot had been rebuilt so that I still have to buy shoes two different sizes. But I was sitting in a wheelchair, thinking that the Army doesn't have any use of me anymore, and I knew I didn't want to farm. I started thinking that maybe I'd like to write, and...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue