The Hudson River School by David Searcy

This is one of a collection of short pieces in the latest Granta magazine. Granta is a British literary periodical and I have been a subscriber for a couple of years. Actually, I made such a mess of the online subscription system that I was receiving 3 copies of each edition. Since each one is the size of a large paperback, this was a lot of wasted paper. Anyway, the 3 were consolidated into one by the helpful people at the publisher and I am now sitting pretty for the next 3 years.

Reading these anthologies of new writing, some pieces stick with you and some don’t. This essay does. It is an account of the writer’s fascination with a story told to him by his dental hygienist, of how her father used a tape of her crying as a baby to attract a predatory coyote and, then, shoot it.

It is about Texas, living in remote places, light and shade, what it means to be in a place and how human civilisation relates to nature. The easy-going narrative style is captivating but dark things are hinted at, as well.

The ‘Hudson River School’, which is not mentioned in the story, is a romantic landscape painting movement from 19th century America. Which I didn’t know, but do now. And knowing it adds to the meaning of the story.

A nice piece of writing.


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