Posted in September 2013
I think everyone who reads this blog is well aware of Forrest’s hidden chest of gold and his, The Thrill of the Chase memoir where his beguiling poem was originally published. Further, by now, we have all struggled over this line in his poem-
Not far, but too far to walk.
What does it mean?
It’s been three long years between the release of that work and his newest work, Too Far to Walk. His beautifully illustrated, latest title should be in reader’s hands by mid-September and I think it’s fair to say it is highly anticipated by the folks who believe it’s about time for new clues from Forrest. The Today Show pledge of monthly clues from Mr. Fenn has become just one more hollow promise in a decade of empty promises. Forrest however is not a hollow man. Four months ago he told us he was going to cut back on email responses so he could devote more time to his new book. He promised he would have it finished by his birthday. It was finished early and is now in the bindery. He is a man who believes his word is still important in a world where words, entire constitutions can become meaningless overnight.
Three years after Forrest’s poem and book were published, he says that his chest is still resting quietly in the “mountains north of Santa Fe”. On this blog, at Stephanie’s chat room, in Richard Sauntier’s thoughtful writings and on dozens of other locations on the web, in the press and in bars and kitchens across this world from Santa Fe to Shanghai the poem and even Mr. Fenn himself are constantly undergoing surgical-like analysis and endless reinterpretation. Someone, some day will find that chest and once again, prove Forrest’s word.
In that regard, the hope of course, is that this new book will provide additional clues to interpreting the puzzle of the poem. It does seem likely there are connections between the new book and the hiding place of the treasure. After all, there is a stunningly detailed map of the search area nested inside, and the new book takes it’s title from a line in the poem itself, “Not far, but too far to walk.” Forrest, always circumspect about the treasure’s hiding spot, has not denied that hints may be found within the new book’s covers. This is an encouraging message for those of us hopeful for any morsel of a clue.
The potential for clues is not the only reward this creative story collection offers. For those looking for more splendidly crafted tales about Forrest, Peggy, Skippy, June, Marvin and Lillie, this collection serves them up like fresh baked, buttery cinnamon rolls on a crispy saturday morning. Comfort reading. Stories to make your heart relax and your mouth turn upward. There are 48 delicious dollops to warm you right down to your phalanges. The grand majority have never seen ink before. A few saw the light of day on Forrest’s blog before they were enhanced and added to the book. One appeared on another website many years ago and has been rewritten to include the latest ideas. So although every single story is not brand spankin new, by far, the majority are and the others have all been improved since they were first published.
It takes more than words these days to share a good story and Forrest knows that. Each of his stories is embellished with photos or drawings, or both. In fact the book is generously peppered with germane illustrations. My personal favorite is a photo of baby Lana Sue being tossed far into the sky by her dad Skippy. She displays an oscar winning joyful grin on her face. Even as she is ten feet in the air Lana has no sense of peril. She trusts her dad implicitly. Forrest’s caption is “Lana Sue plays with her dad, Skippy Fenn”. There is also the illustration of Peggy in “The Bullet”, Forrest’s first car. All you can see of Peggy is the very tippy-top of her head because the passenger seat was missing from the car and Peggy is sitting on an apple box for the long, uncomfortable ride home. The illustrations provide a very important sense of place to Forrest’s cast of characters.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Yellowstone country after just finishing up with the BBC film crew. I received an urgent email from Forrest. He and Susan and Lou were working on the cover for Too Far to Walk and wanted a very specific photo as quickly as possible. I was in the right place at the right time. Forrest sent a photo like the one they wanted. It had to be of a gravelly stream bed. It had to include some grassy shoreline. The water needed to be clear and pristine. The aggregate colorful and scoured clean. The image had to be framed vertical. The light would need to reflect gingerly off the cool trout sustaining liquid. Forrest directed me to an area he liked on the Madison. A place he remembered from his youth and a place he wished he might return to, but figured he could not. I walked up and down that beautiful stretch of trout stream for most of a day, looking to capture what they had asked for. I probably took a hundred photos. I edited them down to the best 5 and sent them off to Forrest’s design team. I am very proud to say that one of them was chosen and appears on the cover of Too Far to Walk. Here is what Forrest wrote about a three day hike in that lovely scenery, fishing and camping along that special place on the Madison River where this photo was taken-
The river experience cemented my connection to that special country and I promised myself that some day I would make the trip again. That day never came for me, and my disappointment still casts a lonesome shadow across the Madison River. For me now, it’s just too far to walk.
Whether you are a reader of richly plaited stories or a searcher cropping for new clues, Too Far to Walk is sure to please.
Find out more about the book, read an excerpt and consider buying a copy here.