Wednesday, June 08, 2011

State of the Mule Contest (copy)

Husband sought me out last night under the carport and exclaimed, “I found it!”

Not realizing something was lost, I was a little confused, “Found what?”

“Read the last sentence of the first paragraph,” he said as he stood over me grinning.

I took The Dog of the South by Charles Portis from his hands and read. "Through a tangle of branches I saw a dead mule." It was official. His beloved, all-time-favorite author had entered "Southern Literature" status. The dead mule (known in literary terms as Equine Gothic) appears in his work and now I must recognize the greatness that is Portis.

Who? The man who wrote True Grit, that is who. A comic genius (my husband’s words) wrote Southern odyssey or oddity (my words) books where a man usually down on his luck travels to procure a missing object such as his car in The Dog of the South and $70 dollars in Norwood. I highly suggest them for the Southern Reading Challenge if one is looking for quirky.

What makes a dead mule a sign of classic Southern literature? Jerry Leath Mills, in his essay The Dead Mule Rides Again explains, “there is indeed a single, simple, litmus-like test for the quality of southernness in literature, one easily formulated into a question to be asked of any literary text and whose answer may be taken as definitive, delimiting, and final. The test is: Is there a dead mule in it?”

Mills goes on to cite the many afflictions a mule may suffer and from the exact text said mule succumbs. There is asphyxiation, beating, collision with a vehicle, decapitation, drowning, fall from a cliff, freezing, gunshot wound, hanging, rabies, stab wound, overwork, and old age.

In Portis’ work it is unclear how the mule dies, but the character is to feel a sense of familiarity since he encounters the site in Central America and not his home state of Arkansas.

If you are participating in the Southern Reading Challenge be on the lookout for dead mules. The State of the Mule Contest runs throughout the month of June. When you find said mule call or e-mail me and have the book title, author and page ready for verification. We will draw from entrants and one winner will receive a gift of pecans. Good luck!

Original post...and here!


Paul said...

Maggie how many books do you read in a week ? I cannot believe that some book bloggers read every book that they review. Mind you , I am a slow reader. :-)

maggie moran said...

Hey, Paul! I think you have a point! I read pretty fast but I realize that dialog can make a book go faster than literary elements. A review is different from a booktalk, my form of poison. :D I am not critical. I merely retell the story to a point and move onto another book. I imagine some folks could do 2 or 3 reviews a week but I bet they are genres and less literary in nature. Stay at home readers could knock real novels out in 3 days, but they have to stop and take notes along the way if they are doing serious reviews. I like to memorize page numbers for important passages myself. ;D On average, I read a book a week. With that said, I read work related books all along that I try nevah to talk about. ;D

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature said...

It's been over a year since you posted this and I think your State of the Mule contest is/was just lovely but, that said, I think you really should have linked to when you published our image. Right? Or at least made a comment about where you go the image, or at least made reference to the fact there was a Dead Mule School of Southern Literature in this post. It's just sort of the nice way to do it online -- or in print -- you credit your sources. It would be a true sign of good faith if you went back to this post and created a hyperlink to from our image, which, by the way, is copyrighted to our magazine as it was drawn for us by artist Ellen Roberson in 1996.

-Valerie MacEwan
Publisher and Editor

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature said...

BTW, my neighbor, Jake Mills died last week. Perhaps it would have also been a good idea if you'd given a link to the website you visited when you copied his quote without any attribution. Fair use and all that ... especially when you're reading (I assume) Southern Cultures.

maggie moran said...

I am sorry! I will delete the image and link back to the first contest where I cited Mr. Mills paper with a link. If you search state of the mule contest you will see my initial post.

I also ran a link to the website on my sidebar during the contest, but removed it after the Southern Reading Challenge was complete.

It was in no way an act of trying to take credit for something I did not do. It was more the fact that I was extremely busy and forgot my manners. Please forgive me and I an truly pained to hear about Mr. Mills passing. His article still makes me giggle.