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Terrell Guillory

- About the Book

SCHILLING
A Novel by Terrell Guillory
Published by Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press

"Dating from WW1 to his painful demise in the late 1940s, this book chronicles the life of rural Louisianan Dr. Schilling in elegant, mesmerizing prose. More than just another good read, this poignant, poetic novel is recommended for all libraries."
- Library Journal

"A brilliant work with the scent of Gulf salt air in its pages -- innovative, imaginative, eclectic, poetic, unpredictable, sometimes reminiscent of Faulkner, sometimes of Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor, Richard Ford, James Lee Burke, but always in Guillory's freshly unique voice. This may be the new face of fiction."
- Jack Olsen, Edgar Award-winning author of I: The Creation of a Serial Killer

"Guillory's style and narrative strategies, rich in imagery, cascading in detail and resorting at times to stream-of-consciousness passages, recall the work of William Faulkner and James Joyce. Like them, but in his own way, Guillory poses the timeless speculations of thinking and feeling human beings in a mysterious universe."
- Sy M. Kahn, author of Between Tedium and Terror

"Terrell Guillory's Schilling is suffused with the lushness of both its Faulknerian language -- what a pleasure to see that great American literary tradition of narrative reinvigorated! -- and its humid Gulf coast settings where we watch in intimate detail the brief flourishing and slow decay of some lives, the fernlike unfurling of another."
- Alvin Greenberg, author of Time Lapse

"Terrell Guillory's instinctive command of Southern cadence and language bring to life a deeper way of knowing the world through the life of one good doctor. It recalls Faulkner, and even Joyce."
- Scott Wilson, Publisher, Port Townsend Leader

"In the finest tradition of Western letters, Dr. Schilling joins Achilles, Aneas, Percival, Hamlet and Joyce's Leopold Bloom in the futile struggle with the paradoxes of human existence."
- Wes Cecil

 

Copyright ©2003 by Terrell Guillory. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate and distribute this file, as long as the excerpt is not altered and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

 

- Excerpt

 

SCHILLING

A Novel by Terrell Guillory

INTRODUCTION

The excerpt, below, is from the new book, SCHILLING, a novel by Terrell Guillory. Library Journal gushed about this book, calling it "elegant, mesmerizing prose" and suggesting "this poignant, poetic novel is recommended for all libraries." Several reviewers have compared Guillory's writing favorably with James Joyce and William Faulkner. The author is a retired English professor who taught at the universities of Washington, Idaho, and Purdue.

SCHILLING is a challenging piece of prose. Guillory's writing has the flavor of dark chocolate -- potent, complex, with a bitter aftertaste. It is best sampled in small doses -- break off a bit and let it melt in your mouth -- you will soon find yourself craving more.

The novel is set in Louisiana and Texas in the 1940s. The excerpt, "Quero's Lament," is a moving meditation on loss in one long paragraph. Mrs. Schilling, old and abandoned, watches her farm house, like her family, fall apart around her. "[I]n the back of her mind there was still, as always, the dream of rebuilding."

More information about the book, SCHILLING, and author Terrell Guillory, follows the excerpt. Enjoy!


Quero's Lament

by Terrell Guillory

That hedge needs cutting, the car rolling into the garage silently, its bumper striking the back wall. Carrying the bag of groceries from the garage, locking it against the wind, pausing to admire the Hollyhock hidden behind the unfolded garage door. Tom was away, going she sensed into his adult agentry whatever that meant: to the war, whatever that meant; from whence whatever. She had seen him leaving, going... and she was lost. Help me: wilt thou be there in my dying? Will no man be there? Must I molt alone? In my grave beside nothing? No one standing above me looking down at least in loss? Worded and by its complexity lost, started and by dreams burned out, doomed and by duress ascending because ascent was the name of man under duress ascending. Dream of time passed, fatalities met, horrors, moments, shams discovered. A branch had been broken by the door; she twisted it off and carried it toward the house. Lilacs were at the peak of their bloom, and the calla lilies were sappy above the ground. Irises were in full bloom, violet, ivory and yellow flowers she had chosen her first year here with a friend who, in ten years, would lay such a purple quintessence across her coffin. (The friend was the last memorable one who thought she understood Quero perhaps because in Quero there was something honestly bitter. The woman had seen this immediately and, bitter herself, instantly invited Quero into her garden where she chose one each of the colors that propagated. Quero had a profound capacity for gratitude and her loyalty to a friend capable of such a gesture could not be unbound, however she might treat a friend; this particular friend knew that, and the gesture of the violet iris laid across her breast followed the separation of a year during which they never spoke. But neither forgot the moment of the first irises when Quero honestly needed and was befriended, a stranger in town after so much failure.) The winter over, she passed the wood pile without pause. Though gas had been piped into the house she still kept a wood stove in the kitchen. She yearned for a fireplace; there had been none since she had moved to Kemp for the two dark years she could never forget. A wood fire consoled her, reminded her of Papa and home from which she had never grown apart except by the extenuation of fortune and marriage. This afternoon she felt winded halfway between the garage and the house and sat on a white lawn seat under a hackberry tree. The tree above her was like an umbrella, yet when she had cut the seventeen hackberry trees in 1938, they had all said the trees will die. Before Webber had died, and he had said, They'll live, Mother, and he had died before they had come out fully the next spring. She had heard something of the war news in the grocery store. She hoped Tom would be able to finish college. But the war would surely continue for years and he would have to go. There was nothing else but him, now that Webber was gone. She was winded. Her legs, scarred from the disease of the thirties, were slim and bowed, their scars shining in the sunlight still on this side of the house, a silver-blue shiny flesh, spread along the shins; not even wartime hose could hide that shine. The rest of her was heavy, but not excessively for one of fifty-three. She had simply lost her shape; yet her face was still beautiful, without wrinkles, a grosser shape of face than youth had suggested; dignified and comely and human without airs. She felt her burdens too much for airs to suffice as a way through life; airs couldn't bear the burdens or reflect the joke, and most of it was a joke. This life, this betrayal. She saw verbenas, clumps of leaves, and thought of those growing around her son's grave which she had not visited for a month. She had had the stone cut and placed, engraved for all of them, and verbenas planted, the cedars at each corner of the lot, the grass mowed, the beds chipped of stray grass, the graves weeded; the roses she had pruned herself. As she had had this lawn of four lots plowed, harrowed, leveled, sown; the shrubbery pruned; the beds weeded; all done to its present state which, to her, was only a beginning. There was much yet to do. Since she had quit painting, landscape had taken the place of art. The woodpile had been her fancy; she had thought of painting it, but she had never solved the problem of composition. Now it lay depleted, its sticks awry, grass grown along its edges; nests of grass. Beneath the trees thirty feet from the back porch two wood lawn seats, once white and now rotting, bore the tubs where she did her washing; galvanized tubs upturned, the color of lead; the copper ribs of the scrub board torn, old and lackluster, leaned against a tree. The washlines were hung beyond, sagging between poles of scrap lumber that raised them when a washing was hung. The garage had been painted the year before, and three years before the house had been painted; both were white and fresh. Some lumber was left where the barn had been town down, red planks split and stacked against, bent tin roofing damaged in the demolishment, slabs of galvanized roofing she hadn't been able to sell; she had thought of donating it to the scrap drive, but in back of her mind there was still, as always, the dream of rebuilding. Perhaps a garden house. For years at the house in the country she had set dimes aside and stored near-empty bags of concrete with only dregs in their boots. At every chance when she had a dollar she would pick up wire, and talk scrap men out of reinforcing rods. She got her sand by swapping a nursery owner four river cedars she had found along a creek in no-man's land. Then before beginning to build her arch, she consulted books in the library in Waco and sketched it to her taste dozens of times, sitting in the back bedroom of the only house she ever loved, soaking her legs in a solution of Epsom salts. Finally she had everything gathered and with Lucy's oldest boys to pour the forms and build the frame, she began her arch. She had it raised at one corner of the orchard where there was no driveway. Standing in the winds of March on her crutches she caught cold but ordered the work to go on until the rains began. Then the Negroes went to early picking and laying aside one crutch the first day, the other three days later, she troweled the cement onto the wire mesh, and with a ladder from mid-July, working two or three hours a day, she finished the arch in August. She had already decided how she could manage ten yards of gravel for the first of her driveway through her orchard but the arch cracked in September. She never looked at it again. Perhaps a garden house... The brooder house had gone first, then the well house, the well rimmed-up with concrete fragments sledged from the brooder house floor. The barn should have gone first; no stock had been in it for three years before she had had Negro Ernest attack it with a crowbar, sledgehammer and puzzlement; neither of them had known where to begin. Finally he had borrowed a mule at her suggestion and tied ropes to six posts on one side of the aisle where cattle had walked to stalls for thirty years. Two mules were required for the other six posts, four-by- fours set by the weight of the loft onto concrete blocks. Yet it hadn't fallen. Finally Ernest drew a rope from its south door through its north and with a fourth mule and himself tripped it over, the barn lying noisily on its side like a great elephant dying with a whoosh of wind and disturbed pollen of fertilizer, an enormous cloud of time and crap and life. The crowbar, the pinchbar, the hammer and Ernest salvaged the barn plank by plank, the red paint coloring his hands, its dust flying into his face until at the end of the day he looked like a tired clown and she felt sorry for him and drove him home, the red on her car seats for more than a year. The well house was simpler, yet she didn't watch it. She had nothing to do with it. A part of it fell against the back porch and she didn't look up from her reading in the living room. She knew it would lead to giving up the well, and no matter how strongly she wanted to make this place into a habitable style, to make it a relevant home in which no one would ever live as though it were home, the well was the last of the past she forwent; those thousands of stoppings at wells in all light for water, for thought, for talk, as strong in her past as thirst itself. The lawn was too big to mow. Tom had done that before he began to drift. Yet it must be mowed. She thought of her money for the week, how much she had spent, how much remained; how she would find enough for the lawn, to have the back screen fixed, the garage door straightened; the rain had caused it to settle and scrape. Now the rain was over, so let the garage go for now. There was more to do. Termites had attacked a rent house; a refrigerator had gone on the blink; a closet was scraping a hardwood floor. Sparrows were returning to the trees for the night. The leaves were again attacked by worms encased in beads growing wart-like along the leaf surfaces; a wind- injured limb from the spring equinox was dying and carrying with it a young limb. The winds terrified her. Not the northers that swept along the eaves of the house from October till March, as she lay in her bed alone, lulled to sleep by primal incessant howling; but the winds of September, colossal and rabid, tearing and ripping gales, gusts, cyclonic demons from the west, beyond compare; dying by morning, her terror white until the dawn, lightning still in the pulse of her eye. The essence of loneliness is found in a wind, gusting and dying like the respiration of horror itself. Malign. Horror. The gutters around the house were never the same after the wind of '40, and there had been no one to help her when two windows had blown out last winter; Tom was gone and his father was sick and helpless. She had used suitcases, jagged and worn from travels from nowhere to nowhere, holding them in the broken windows to keep the rain off the beds and floor and clothes, screaming until she caught herself and knew that no one would come. She swore against the fates as she ever had, cursing, screaming revenge against life, man, fate, wind, nothing coming out of her mouth open to the rain, her face and naked eyes wet in prickling rain. The cat crossed the lawn, Tom's cat, its fur marbled shadows. She called the cat and the cat came and sat beside her, pawing her thigh as though nursing; she petted its head. At this time the milking would be done at Papa's, a wind in the pines, supper in the air. Someone would draw the last daylight water out of the well, and there would be no reflection until morning. How old I am. How old am I. I am how old. I am old. God, no. Death before age; yet she wanted to live forever, and she was afraid, of life, of death, of living, of tomorrow, of punctilio, of perfection, of failure, of duty, of the next moment, of dreams, of all and dust. The ties with money, the contests, the chicanery, the puppeteering of lives by spectral masters, a depression, a bad year; the chestnutting cat, the fool in the well: all are too much, and the four sisters failed. She rose and sicced the cat off her lap and started in. She wondered how different she might hope it could have been. She stopped to take linen off the line under the porch, holding the bag of groceries in one arm. Letting the cloth fall to her shoulder, she stepped to the well and looked down a hundred feet, the water dark with a faint reflection. She had studied wells all of her life, the deep eye holding a reflection of herself, like looking into time and unlived years around corners into promises. Her teeth were tight behind thinned lips; she looked with a cold eye. She stepped back and retrieved an apron she had dropped, reached for the screen door and went in. She now dreaded entering the kitchen since servants were impossible, not only because there was no money, but they were embroiled in the war. The kitchen was the last original part of the house. Elsewhere she had built new rooms, porches, decorated the old. The sink was littered with dishes. Above the table on shelves the china she had bought in 1920 bore oily dust; she had not used it since Webber died. On the table a silver vase bore two irises, the vase from her mother, the irises placed there to compensate for the duty she had neglected to perform. The crystal punchbowl bought in 1922 sat at one end of the drainboard holding boxes of keys, folded napkins, a padlock and hinge with nails protruding, a half dozen dead candles. A hammer and level rested in the dust atop a water heater. She sighed and passed into the dining room which for three years had been her bedroom, the dining set sold, buffet, china closet, chairs and table, after rain in the storeroom had warped the veneer. Only one of her paintings remained in this room, a sketch for a railroad vanishing. She removed the pin from her hat before the dresser and went immediately through the French doors, crossing the hall to his open door, the room darkening, the doctor lying still in the rapidly closing light.

 

Copyright ©2003 by Terrell Guillory. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate and distribute this file, as long as the excerpt is not altered and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

About the Author

Terrell Guillory was born and reared beside the 98th meridian running through Texas, the dividing line between the South and the West, according to rainfall, farming to the east, ranching to the west -- two cultures. He was exposed to other cultures as well: The Anglo-Celt and the German, the Mexican-American and the African-American of Central Texas. His parents' roots were in Louisiana, his mother from Winn Parish, his father from Evangeline, marinating him in two other cultures -- Anglo-Saxon southern and Cajun French.

He was educated at the University of Texas in Austin and at the University of Washington, and he's taught English at the universities of Washington, Idaho, and Purdue. He currently writes a column for the Port Townsend Leader in the northwest corner of Washington state.

For many years he has divided his time between the Pacific Northwest and the Gulf Southwest. Most of his writings come from notes taken from glimpses through the window of a train which arrives too soon.

 

Copyright ©2003 by Terrell Guillory. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate and distribute this file, as long as the excerpt is not altered and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.

 

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