Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oh, Noble Holstonia!

Yesterday, I got an email from one Jim Glanville, modestly titled "Of Possible Interest."  In its entirety, it reads:

Mr. Swanwick:

A few days ago I posted It notes your recent book.

Jim Glanville 

It turns out that Mr. Glanville is a retired chemist who is writing a dual biography of Paquiquinero, the "first gentleman of Virginia"and an early Native American patriot, and James Branch Cabell, who wrote a historical novel about him.  My contribution (and a very small one it is) was to write What Can be Saved From the Wreckage?, a literary overview of  Cabell which briefly dealt with that book.

Being an inquisitive man, I naturally snooped about the parent website and found that it deals with Holstonia, the biogeological province of southern Virginia and Northern Tennessee created by the headwaters of the Holston River.  A region that he Glanville named and defined.  You can find the maps here.  

This is not only eccentric, but is the sort of eccentricity we need a lot more of.  What microregional area do you inhabit?  How much have you done to promote it?

You can find out more about Glanville here in an article that makes him out to be quite an admirable man.  I particularly like his dogged determination to record the history of the Olin chemical plant, despite the disinterest of all contemporary historical journals.  A century (or two or nine) from now, researchers will bless his name.



Oz said...

How interesting. Miss E is in 4th grade this year and it's all Virginia history, all the time. She learned her 5 VA regions in September. I was thinking this was part of the tiny Appalachian Plateau region (shared with TN) which is only 4 counties of coal mining in SW VA, but after downloading the Holstonia map, I see it's in the Valley and Ridge region. (We live in the NW corner of the Piedmont region and can see the Blue Ridge region from our house.)

Should she be in need of another project subject matter, Holstonia would seem to be a good place to look at.

Meanwhile, like a good VA citizen (which I am not, being raised in MA), she is to memorize the closing of Patrick Henry's famous speech for her January "poem." I can't say I think much of his rhyming scheme, but poetry is in the eye of the 4th grade teacher.


Victoria Janssen said...

That is awesomely cool!

Michael Swanwick said...

For me, the very best part of it all is the sentence, "If Holstonia has a capital city, Saltville can make the best claim to be it."

It must be great to be able to write something like that without a single grain of irony.