After the author's reading, as we were leaving, we came across a young writer gazing at a sign that was a line from a short story by Raymond Carver.
A brief meeting of the Raymond Carver Fan Club, Chapter 97209 was called to order.
The young writer told us he was on his way, that very night, to Port Angeles, to visit the grave of Raymond Carver. A pilgrimage of sorts. He was getting ready to start a new novel, and paying homage to Raymond Carver was his way of invoking the Muse, much as the ancients did before they took up the task of taming words into a story.
I was enchanted by that idea (as you can see, I've remembered it - albeit missing bits - for years). I wondered for whom I would undertake a pilgrimage. Who would I invoke to bless my efforts?
James Crumley would top the list. But I wouldn't visit his grave, I'd visit Crumley corner in The Depot, Missoula, Montana.
And if you don't know the work of James Crumley, I envy you. You now get to buy his books and experience the raw pleasure of reading an undisputed master for the very first time. Like how Keats felt about another writer who was known to invoke the Muse:
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
And for whom would you make a pilgrimage?