New Pioneer Girl Project blog post!
New Pioneer Girl Project blog post!
New Pioneer Girl Project blog post!
In 2012, the South Dakota State Historical Society Press announced that it would publish Laura Ingalls Wilder’s previously unpublished autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in the summer of 2013.
Since that time, the Press has worked hard to keep its interested followers up to date with each step in the process. We knew that work on this book would be involved and deep, but we were unaware exactly how involved and how deep we, and principal editor/annotator Pamela Smith Hill, would find ourselves as the project progressed.
Time and again during the researching, writing, and editing of this book, we have found ourselves making new discoveries about Wilder and her early work. We have constantly been surprised at where we ended up when research led us in unexpected directions. Each twist and turn has been exciting, but unfortunately, it has also been time consuming.
So, it is with great regret that the Press is forced to announce a delay in the publication of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition. At this time, we are working hard to expedite the process. However, we believe that all of our books deserve the highest possible level of research, writing, and production. With this in mind, we will strive for the earliest possible release date but will not shortchange the standards by which we have made our reputation.
The South Dakota State Historical Society Press thanks all those who have shown interest in Pioneer Girl. We will continue to update our progress on the book’s website, pioneergirlproject.org, and we will be announcing a revised publication date as soon as we can.
Nancy Tystad Koupal
Two of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press’s most popular titles about the cowboy culture of South Dakota and the Black Hills Gold Rush will soon be released in paperback.
Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip will be available in paperback in March of 2013 for $17.95. Illustrated by Mick B. Harrison and edited by Cathie Draine, this entertaining collection won a 2008 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. “Within the large body of autobiographies, letters, and memoirs of cowboy life, George Philip’s recollections rank among the best,” Richard W. Slatta writes in the afterword.
Ho! For the Black Hills: Captain Jack Crawford Reports the Gold Rush and Great Sioux War will also be available in paperback in April of 2013 for $18.95. Award-winning historian Paul L. Hedren has compiled these little-known reports to the Omaha Bee, writing an introduction and essays that place the correspondence in the greater context of the Black Hills Gold Rush and the Great Sioux War.
Both books may be pre-ordered on-line or by calling the Press at 605-773-6009.
How do I come up with one line? I have lots of favorite parts of the books we publish. The illustrations in Greet the Dawn are top-notch, and I enjoy looking at them over and over again, . . . but I don’t think illustrations count as our favorite “line!” I’m not from Sioux Falls, but North of Twelfth Street introduced me to the people and places that make up the historic districts of the city, and it did an excellent job of showing me the character of Sioux Falls. Again, that’s not really a line, though.
While I can’t choose a single, favorite line, I do have a favorite concept. I have read one part of Infinite West several times over: the Cedar Pass Lodge episode of the Badlands chapter. I love it when an author starts out making me laugh and ends up making me think. I like the way Fraser Harrison starts with a couple of humorous events—I readily identified with the poor fellow (or should I say “chap”) who pulled up thinking he was meant to stay at the lodge that night, and then realized he had arrived a week ahead of schedule. And there probably is barely a person alive who can’t identify with Harrison when he locked his whole life inside his cabin while he stood outside. Although, I can top his dilemma because in my own “lockout” my ten-month old baby remained inside my car, blissfully sitting in her seat staring at me through the window and giggling because she thought I was playing “peek-a-boo” with her.
The second concept is, I guess, an example of why I really like this book. The author is looking at the Badlands of South Dakota and comparing them to the human condition of aging—if he had just stuck to the Badlands, as majestic and wild-looking as they are, I would have found myself losing interest after a few paragraphs. But he intertwines the aging landscape with observations of his own age and aging—“My hair, once curly and dark, now resembles porridge.” Thanks to beauticians and hair-dye, I will never have to identify with that particular line! Harrison provides insights into his thoughts about aging and the natural course of feelings and emotions throughout this chapter. He reminds me that every day given is one that should be relished, and that we should grow and learn, not shrink and become self-absorbed. While not the first time I’ve “learned” this lesson, Harrison did an excellent job of giving a great lesson a new twist. I will look at aging, and the Badlands next time I visit them, in a different light thanks to his writing.
So, I choose not to provide one favorite line—it doesn’t do justice to my enjoyment of our 2012 books. Instead, I choose the fact that I learned from Fraser Harrison and identified with his communal human experiences; good reasons to choose a chapter rather than a sentence, if you ask me!
We are most fortunate that we have some wonderful authors/illustrators/designers who send us edible delights at this time of the year. (See the picture on the previous post.)
One such package arrived this morning full of delectable cheeses. We opened up the package and read the descriptions of the various cheeses. Each description is a veritable feast of words attempting to invoke the essence of that cheese’s particular combination of smell, flavor, and production. Hearing the words read out loud got me thinking: what if books were described in catalogs in a similar manner to food and wine?
So, here’s a few SDSHS Press books described in just that manner! See if you can guess which books are being described. Answers at the bottom.
Smatterings of gunpowder soaked in the essence of pine tree, with deep notes of newsprint, India ink, and brittle, old writing paper.
Horse-sweat undertones convey the campfire smoke and long, prairie grasses. Cow hides and charred rattlesnake form a beefy middle tone, while mere whiffs of fear clash with the powerful melodies of adrenaline and laughter linger from first taste to last.
Rubber tires, overheated tarmac, cordite, and exploding granite form the basic flavors, but there is a heady-yet-subtle vein of diner fry-pans, casinos, and cigarette smoke running throughout.
Whenever you put the words “Turkey” and “Thanksgiving” together there are obvious connotations, but in this particular case we’re talking about the country not the bird.
Last year, the SDSHS Press published Dancing with Colonels: A Young Woman’s Adventures in Wartime Turkey. Here, just in time for Thanksgiving, is Marjorie Havreberg’s Thanksgiving 1944 letter to her family in Redfield, South Dakota.
23 November 1944
Wondering what you are doing this Thanksgiving Day. Dinner at Lillian’s or dinner at Mother’s? At Lillian’s I suppose, and Mother bringing pies and things from home.
I packed my things at the hotel this morning and tomorrow morning they will be moved to the room that Ellen has vacated. Had lunch with Corelli at Karpiç’s. Afterwards there was a football game at the stadium (touch football) between the military “Redskins” and the Embassy “Palefaces,” but it was called off at the half on account of rain. It is raining today and it’s really a grey day but not unpleasant. It snowed some a few days ago—not in the low part of Ankara, but on the higher parts. The mountains are covered with snow. Hope there will be a lot of snow this winter, it’s nice and makes me think of South Dakota. The climate is actually a lot like South Dakota’s climate at its best. I love the cold clear days but they haven’t been really cold yet. Tonight all the Americans go to the Steinhardt’s for a buffet supper—turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and all the rest that goes with an American Thanksgiving dinner. There will be a movie too and dancing I think and hope. It is the custom on all American holidays to go to the Steinhardt’s. I suppose that is the only time I will ever go there.
Well, you’ve either already voted or will do later today in the rather more important poll, but here’s a little SDSHS Press vote to either get you in the mood or give you one more fix!
The books listed in the poll below are three of our best-selling books of the last five years.
Watch Fraser Harrison talking about the act of publishing a book in a recent visit to the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
What are Rodger and Lisa doing standing in the loading dock? Watch this short video to find out!
I’ve posted the quote before, but I’ll share it again because it is my favorite line from Fraser Harrison’s Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota.
“The Badlands was nature on acid; this was geology as psychedelia.”
The idea that Harrison brings to mind—that of drug-fueled geologic activity—is one that appeals to me in some strange manner. I’m not advocating drug use, of course, but to my mind the description is perfect. Whoever has been fortunate enough to stand in the Badlands, particularly early or late in the day, has surely experienced that mesmeric sense of wonder at the shapes, rises, troughs, colors, shades, and sheer scale that appear before them. Such combinations of multi-flavored “exploded ice cream,” as Harrison describes it, makes me chuckle with admiration at nature’s power to amaze. And yet, the Badlands are so “trippy” that Harrison’s “nature on acid” seems appropriate—a description as apt as one might find anywhere for anything.
Fraser Harrison has other beautifully sculpted descriptions (not words on acid, but certainly inspired paintings in the letters and sentences sense) of the Badlands. His imagery is marvelous, concocting in the reader’s mind a particular vision of the Badlands no matter how many times they have seen them themselves. I don’t know exactly which formation he was describing when he wrote of a “futuristic megalopolis, mile after mile of towers, blocks, and crazy superstructures, all designed in sci-fi Gothic and lit by a low, melting sun,” but I do know that when I next look upon one aspect of the wall or another, I’ll be able to picture it featuring as the backdrop to a sci-fi blockbuster on the big screen.
Good writing, no matter the subject, has the power to influence the reader. Great lines within a book often stay with us forever—the best becoming iconic in themselves. I know that “nature on acid” will hold a special place in my mind for many years. And, I hope that as others pick up Infinite West they will discover the strength of Harrison’s words and take away from the book little gems of their own, perhaps stacking them on top of each other as if forming their own word-filled Badlands.