Swain Wolfe The Lake Dreams the Sky

ISBN 13: 9780060929930

The Lake Dreams the Sky

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9780060929930: The Lake Dreams the Sky

Myth, emotion, vision, and dream tell the story of legendary lovers who passion set the lake on fire.

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From the Author:

A Reader's Guide to The Work of Swain Wolfe At six or seven, I dreamed I was chased by a mob through the woods into a tower. I bolted the door and ran up the spiral stairs to the roof where icicles were melting in the sun. It occurred to me to become ice so the sun could melt me and I could escape. But intsead I was transformed into a heavy mist. I sank down into the mob. They inhaled me. I was the mob and they were me. Forty-five years later, that dream became an element of my first novel, The Woman Who Lives in the Earth. During my childhood, my father was director of a tuberculosis asylum where I explored the underground tunnels that connected the steam plant to the buildings. When my father died, my mother took her horses to a camp in the mountains. We guided hunters and dudes, traded horses, and poached deer. I worked the night shift on a lumber mill log pond in high school. Later, I got a job in the copper mines in Butte, Montana. In time I began to know the underground: how the veins of ore flowed through the mountain, how the temperature changed from level to level, and how the rail tracks jogged where the earth had slipped. One weekend I went for a drive and realized something was different: I could not look at the ground without wondering what was beneath its surface. Then I worked as a hooker and choker-setter for Cameron Logging in the Lolo Forest. Eventually, a kind of ecstasy overcame me, and I became conversant with trees. I fell in love with a girl who liked clay. I became a potter, then I made films--surreal, abstract, arty films. I spent a summer making a film about the children of migrant Mexican beet workers and forgot about pottery. For the next thirty years, I made films on ecology and cultural anthropology. I rewrote a film script as a short novel--The Woman Who Lives In the Earth, which I self-published through five printings and a life on credit cards. One day, the publisher of HarperCollins walked in the Boulder Bookstore and asked about regional bestsellers. Well, I can't keep this one in stock, the bookseller told him, and handed him my book.

About the Author:

Swain Wolfe is a writer and filmmaker who has lived in Montana most of his life. The Woman Who Lives in the Earth is his first novel.

His early films were made in Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Montana. An interest in cultural anthropology resulted in the films Energy & Morality, about the effect of high energy use on social behavior, and Phantom Cowboy, about the ways groups and individuals heighten their sense of identity by using aggression to isolate themselves and their causes from the general public. His films have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and have twice represented the United States in the International Public Television Conference.

Recent projects have taken him to a Bedouin shanty town on the Gulf of Aqaba and to an island in Alaska to observe and film grizzly bears. The latter film, The Sacred Bear, will explore bear stories from early Eurasian and North American cultures, and compare our present views of nature with those of our early ancestors. One day in a meadow by the sea, he woke from a nap to find himself surrounded by five large grizzlies. He explained, "The bears were eating Chocolate Lilies. They ignored me. But sometimes, when I'm just waking up, I can still feel bears around me: large, serene, self-possessed bears."

For years Wolfe lived and worked around natural storytellers. The first were the cowboys he lived with as a boy on ranches in Colorado and Montana. As a young man he worked in the underground copper mines of Butte and Walkerville, and later as a logger in the Bitterroot Mountains. In an interview for the Bloomsbury Review he explained how these jobs affected the way he sees the world.

"When you're underground for a while, you begin to get the feel of where the ore flows, how hard the granite is one place from another, how hot the wall temperature is from level to level, where the earth slips and messes up the tracks, and things you knew but never had words for. Then one day after work you drive over to Anaconda to see your girl and you realize something is very different. Your world is never going to be the same because you cannot be on the surface without thinking about what's underneath. And like water seeping through sand, that sensation invades everything, all your thoughts, your dreams. You're never the same. The mines let you see in unconventional ways. At the same time, many of the miners knew how to tell stories better and with greater purpose than any I've read.

"After the mines, I worked in the woods. I became intensely aware of trees, which created another world for me and a very different way of seeing. Our early ancestors believed the world was alive and aware of us. I know how that feels and it affects how I write and how I tell stories."

His novel, The Woman Who Lives in the Earth, evolved over a period of years. "The end of the story came from a dream I had as a child. The personalities of the people, even various animals, and, of course, all those experiences that show up in small, unconscious ways -- all these things became a vague sensation that surrounded my dream. Then one day it was a story. It was like seeing a face for the first time in the ancient plaster of your kitchen wall. We can look at something for years, and suddenly see it."

In recent years his interest as a filmmaker and writer have focused on the way different cultures and individuals use stories. He has just finished a children's story about a lonely man who discovers what it is that hides in his shadow and why his past follows him wherever her goes. Wolfe is currently working on a love story about two people who attempt to create a life outside the norms and conventions of society.

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Wolfe, Swain
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