Friday, October 10, 2014

ND Dispatch #4: Williston snapshots

I thought it might be fun to share a few photographs of places which ended up appearing in the novel.

 You'll notice that Wal-Mart figures prominently: truly, it felt like the very heart of the town. I don't mean that in a bad way, either--though many of my loved ones are not fans of Wal-Mart, for me it evokes pleasant childhood memories. In Missouri, it was a place I could bike to, with air conditioning, where I could buy cheap treasures with my allowance....whereas in Williston it really has the feel of the general store/outfitter.

my rental car - after I scraped it off. It was dirty, had a cracked windshield, and smelled like cigarettes. Also - no snow tires!!

this is the start of the snow storm that ended up closing the highway and airport during my visit

WalMart, at midday when there were fewer shoppers

men sleep in their trucks in the lot due to the housing shortage

the Wal-Mart liquor store, by local law housed separately. This was the only part of Wal-Mart that I found depressing.

Western dress is standard

At WalMart, you can buy your groceries...

....get your hair cut.... all your cold-weather gear...

...get your nails done...

...and buy jeans for the whole family. No Lucky or Hudson here!

the Williston library...shoveling done by librarians!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ND Dispatch #3: This Ain't the Chron, Sister

*** third in a series of posts from while writing THE MISSING PLACE ***

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So I picked up a copy of the Bismarck Tribune this morning, having read the Williston paper yesterday. I gave it a good peruse over my diner breakfast.  It didn't take me long at all to conclude that this is a very different paper than we read in the Bay Area. I mean, I get that any newspaper at all is an anachronism at this point, that I hold history in my hands - crumbling, soon, to forgotten dust - but it was still a bit jarring.

Here are just a few things I don't think you'd find in the SF Chronicle:

1. The headline "U.S. Tax Code Longer Than Bible"

2. A sidebar on "Winter Survival Kit Basics" that includes this item:
"Food, such as hard candy, jelly beans, raisins, nuts, candy bars, dehydrated fruit and jerky." Emphasis mine, of course. But jaysus, I can only imagine walking into the Oakland Whole Foods with this list in hand...

3. A *full-page* ad congratulating Miss North Dakota. Way to go, Rosie, and it's sort of sweet that you've got the local folks so solidly behind you.

4. Three of the six obituaries with editorial content mention horses.

5. Classified ads. With pictures. Like, before craigslist, remember? You can buy an antique tackle box, wedding dresses, tires, 1950s license plates...

(People, I'm writing this in the Williston Public Library and there is a guy at the next table with *chaw*. I swear it. His chewing noises are very rhythmic, so there's that; I'll just pretend it's waves crashing on a beach or something.

Also, here's a snap of a Williston librarian performing a service that I don't think are required of her Oakland colleagues.