A Celebration of Hemingway…and Marfa, and Paris, and the South of France, and New Orleans…and More

The Ken Burns series on Hemingway will begin airing on PBS on April 5, 2021. The promos to his series got me to thinking about what was going on in my mind as I was writing A Moveable Marfa. The series looks like it is going to be incredible and honest.

I worked on A Moveable Marfa during the years I lived Paris, 2010-2013. I knew additional books might also emerge from this experience. Which is now happening. The Sommières Sun, my next novel and a sequel to A Moveable Marfa is in the final stages of pre-publication editing. In telling of my story of protagonist, Steve Miles, both novels feature content on Hemingway’s life in Paris and his philosophy on writing.

In 2011, I challenged myself to visit and document many of the sites in Paris Hemingway identified in Paris. I visited where he and Hadley first lived and the nearby writing studio he rented. A portion of the episode I describe in Chapter 21 of A Moveable Marfa really happened. I still vividly recall the downpour that began as I was admiring the location of Hemingway’s old writing studio at 39 rue Descartes. Slightly drenched and standing under an awning, I really did chat with a man of African descent there. I think in reality we conversed in French, even if my character, Steve, chatted with him mostly in English.

Anyway, I visited and wrote about many sites Hemingway described in A Moveable Feast, including the places he lived, Gertrude Stein’s flat at 27 Fluerus, Michaud’s (now Le Pre Aux Clercs), the original location of Shakespeare and Company at rue de l’Odeon, Hotel Venitia, and the Dingo Bar (now Auberge de Venise), among others. In a A Moveable Marfa, I described Steve’s feelings as he visited these places seeking inspiration to write his novel.

Throughout A Moveable Feast, Hemingway described so many places we can visit today. Here’s his description of the fountains at Place Saint-Sulpice.

I visited this fountain numerous times.

Fountain at Place Saint Saint Sulpice, December 28, 2012 ©CE Hunt
Fountain at Place Saint Saint Sulpice, December 28, 2012 ©CE Hunt

Of course I hung out at the Jardin de Luxembourg numerous times and wrote parts of the book there. Hemingway referenced this park many times and wrote of going to the Musée du Luxembourg to see the Cézannes, Manets, Monets.

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Marie De Medicis Fountain in Jardin du Luxembourg, May 25, 2013 ©CE Hunt
Marie De Medicis Fountain in Jardin du Luxembourg, May 25, 2013 ©CE Hunt
Musée du Luxembourg, March 5, 2013 ©CE Hunt

In Chapter 22, I describe a scene in the below bar, Le 10 Bar. Right next door, was the original location of Shakespeare and Company. I describe a scene that Hemingway reportedly made on this very street after receiving a bad review.

Le 10 Bar, May 25, 2013 ©CE Hunt

The Sommières Sun will be out soon. If you haven’t read a A Moveable Marfa now is a great time. The Sommières Sun is a sequel to a A Moveable Marfa. Reading A Moveable Marfa is not essential, but reading it first will make reading The Sommières Sun all the more enjoyable.

A Couple of Cool Books on the West

I wanted to do short reviews on a couple of books I recently enjoyed. I find inspiration in the American West. I love the beauty, the isolation and the mystery. Having lived in the West multiple times, I have feelings there I seldom have elsewhere. The West offers the absence of people and distractions, the abundance of beauty and sunsets and the palpable sense there are some aspects of those sweeping landscapes that our conventional five senses cannot fully detect.

As an example, I was once poking around the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site in Otero County New Mexico just as the sun was about to dip below the horizon. My world was bathed in orange light with foreboding shadows coming from the petroglyph-covered boulders surrounding me. I had strange a sensation I was in a sacred place similar to what I experienced when visiting the Chartres Cathedral. Hard to explain unless you have experienced it. I had been there earlier on other days, and it didn’t have that feeling. It was as though the sunset “activated it.” The photo section of this site (under the New Mexico tab) has a couple of pictures I took of this place on other days.

But I digress, let’s talk books…

Let me start with Abandoned New Mexico by John M. Mulhouse. Having lived in New Mexico for three years, I explored the remote corners of this magnificent state as often as I could.

Mulhouse does an excellent job of documenting places across the state that have been largely abandoned yet still have many great stories to share. Though Mulhouse doesn’t necessarily emphasize this, it is a persistent story of the futility of man working against mother nature. Mulhouse’s main emphasis is what brought people to a place, what was built to support civilization and, typically speaking, how precious little still remains of that struggle.

Dunlap Church and School ©John M Mulhouse (From Abandoned New Mexico)

The book is filled with incredible photos documenting what remains of ghost towns and near ghost towns across the state. I actually visited the above structure in 1996 and documented it myself. There used to be other buildings around this structure. There was no sign of them even in 1996 when I visited. Now, the building sits in splendid isolation out on an Eastern New Mexico prairie.

Here is the building I documented in 1996 ©CE Hunt

Sadly, other images of this structure in the book reveal that the building has deteriorated a great deal from the time I visited. But, I digress (again).

Mulhouse’s book does an impressive job of documenting so many forgotten places across the state.

Simply put, I loved this book. Having lived in New Mexico and having explored its backroads, this book brings back so many good memories and gives context to many of the lonely, beautiful places I visited. I loved the way Mulhouse coupled his stunning photography with just enough history to give context without overwhelming the reader. His occasional dry humor adds much as well.

Another thing I liked is that he offers explorations in parts of the state that are seldom discussed but have rich histories and interesting stories to share.

Now, I’ll provide a brief review of a second book concerning the Southwest. It is a totally different kind of book.

Desert Oracle by Ken Layne explores some of the mysterious aspects of the Southwest. It shares a number of stories, some short, some long, that describes mysteries surrounding disappearances, cults, murders, UFOs monsters and other desert mysteries. The stories are all based on accounts from several sources about these strange occurrences. Layne balances “keeping it real” and keeping it interesting quite well.

One of my favorite stories was about a mysterious Swedish fellow named John Samuelson who left his life philosophy carved on some stones now part of Joshua Tree National Park. The man led a bizarre life including selling the rights to his (possibly true) life story to Earl Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason.

The book has an old school feeling to it and is ascetically very pleasing. The stories are well written and interesting. All the content is presented in a plausible fashion and will likely hold your attention. Once finished, you will step away from the book wanting to go experience some of these mysteries of the Southwest yourself.

Coming spring 2021

Cover photo: ©Matt Walter, 1 Jan 2021, Sunset over Alpine, TX

Storms and Feeling Alive

Hurricane Zeta, October 2020 ©CE Hunt

“Just one more minute. Je me sens si vivante!”

“Wow! You changed.” I stared in her wide open eyes. “I feel so alive too, I feel so alive when I am with you, hurricane or not.”

Moi aussi mon cher!” and she dug her face into my chest. The rain was so hard, the wind so strong, you could no longer see out into the distance. It was just a swirl of black, gray with a few city lights appearing at times. Lightning towards the Gulf occasionally made a strange greenish light in the distance.

–The Sommières Sun, to be published spring 2021

If you’ve ever been through a hurricane, you may understand the above conversation between Steve and his friend from my upcoming novel, The Sommières Sun. Hurricanes can be scary. If you feel like you could die, you might be too terrified to feel “si vivante” or “so alive.” However, if you can experience a storm from a place where you feel relatively safe, you can have an amazing experience just as Steve and his friend find out as they are visiting New Orleans. From the 9th floor of the Ace Hotel, they witness the awesome power mother nature can unleash.

There is something very primal about witnessing the awesome forces of wind and rain coming together at such a force. The feeling of the wind making it being hard to stand up, or the pelting of horizontal rain or even the smell of a hurricane affects one viscerally.

The scene I describe in The Sommières Sun is based on what I witnessed during Hurricane Zeta in late October 2020. As the video I captured shows, it was a force to be reckoned with. I tried to capture my characters encountering the forces described above and depicted in the video below.

And going through something like this with a person you care about can somehow make you feel even closer, like you shared something really important or even “cheated death” together.

I invite you to experience this scene this spring upon publication. It is one of my favorite scenes in the book!

The Sommières Sun is a sequel to A Moveable Marfa, published January 2020.

To keep up with the latest and see more of my photography, please follow my instagram account here. There are more videos and photos of Hurricane Zeta there.

Coming spring 2021

Why I write

I just finished the first draft of The Sommières Sun. It now goes on to editing and it is still on track for a spring release. I thought I’d take a short break from the book to blog about why I write.

Marfa, Texas (from the Sunset Limited) April 2008 ©CE Hunt

I write to entertain, educate and inspire. I also write to provoke thought. I find many of us lead lives, myself included, that don’t often offer time to think. I mean time for us to reflect on what we actually think about something. Far too often we “outsource” our thinking to others, political commentators, journalists, celebrities, pastors or, even worse, propagandists.

In the past, many of our jobs featured time to be alone and offered moments of reflection. What else could you do walking behind a mule or sitting on a tractor or the like? I know my grandparents, who were farmers in Deep East Texas, had much time to think. Many of their daily tasks were performed alone without any distraction other than the task before them, often a task that didn’t require a great deal of attention. They had no internet or radio to “keep them company” as they went about their tasks out on the farm. They had a newspaper and some fuzzy television of three channels if the weather was right.

Picture of my grandmother I took in 1979 in East Texas with my hand me down Minolta SLR.

I loved talking to my grandparents because their ways of thinking didn’t fit into any box. They didn’t let anyone do their thinking for them. They certainly didn’t organize their world view around what a political party told them to think. I didn’t always agree with them and frankly a few of their views were farfetched, but the beauty of it was that they were were “their” views. Nowadays, tell me what networks or media outlets you follow and I can probably accurately guess your views on things ninety percent of the time or more.

Okay, so what’s this got to do with writing? I like to entertain and inspire people, but I also like to provoke the reader to think about things from a different perspective. In both A Moveable Marfa and The Sommières Sun, I use people from other cultures to provoke Steve, my protagonist, to think about things from other perspectives.

Port-en-Bessin, Normandy. December 2009 ©CE Hunt

Travelling and truly listening to people from other cultures is another way to help people to develop “their” views. Often times, the “pre-packaged” views we embrace don’t in reality square well with the complexity of the real world. So, I have sought to journal or somehow record the moments where my worldview was challenged.

I have also attempted to record or at least remember things that have happened to me that I found interesting, challenging or surprising. Hemingway offered–

“Good writing is true writing. If a man is making a story up it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge of life that he has and how conscientious he is; so that when he makes something up it is as it would truly be.”

I strive to keep my writing “true” by writing from my “knowledge of life.” I work to avoid writing pure fiction. I weave my knowledge of life and enough informed fiction to make a story flow and enhance the reader’s experience. I really feel like a fraud when I write about something of which I have no personal experience. It makes my writing feel less “true.” Probably most writers share this feeling.

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Le Relais de Venise (steak house), Porte Maillot, Paris 2013 ©CE Hunt – Look for a scene here in The Sommières Sun.

Whether it is the taste of an incredible steak-frites meal I had in a Paris steak house, the emotions I felt during a hurricane, the curiosity that filled me when I experienced a good Tiki bar or my reaction to a beautiful West Texas sunset, I try connect the reader to the beauty of these experiences for the reader’s enjoyment or inspiration. However, as appropriate, I also use experiences to provoke thought on the part of the reader by sharing different ways of thinking about things. Of course, readers have the sovereignty of their own thoughts and feelings.

Latitude 29 Tiki bar, New Orleans 2020 ©CE Hunt – Look for a scene here as well in The Sommières Sun.

That, in a nutshell, is why I write.

Coming spring 2012

Tiki Anyone?

My upcoming novel, The Sommières Sun delves into the tiki culture of Paris and New Orleans.

The philosophy, if you will, is living moments of a peaceful life. Let the magic of the ocean and the breeze heal you and wash away your cares. Think white sand and the smell of an ocean breeze. It’s primal.

The above quote is from “Beach” Roberson, Steve’s new acquaintance in Paris in The Sommières Sun. In the novel, Beach owns one of Paris’ hottest bars, Tiki-Paris. He will have much more to say about the importance of tiki culture in the American experience. For him, it is literally spiritual.

Perhaps, you might wonder, “What’s tiki?” It is a complex question to answer. One could start with tiki bars. Donn Beach (He was born Ernest Gantt, likely in New Orleans.) is often considered the “founding father” of tiki culture. He opened the first tiki bar, Don the Beachcomber, during the 1930s in Hollywood, CA. It was later expanded and additional Don the Beachcombers opened in the United States. 

Donn Beach (left), Don the Beachcomber. Source: Don the Beachcomber Restaurant, Huntington Beach, CA (currently closed.)

What makes a tiki bar a tiki bar? Traditionally tiki bars are south seas-themed drinking establishments that serve elaborate cocktails, especially rum-based mixed drinks such as the Mai Tais, Zombies, Nui Nuis, Suffering Bastards, etc. Tiki bars are aesthetically defined by their trappings of Polynesian culture.  Most bars also incorporate general nautical themes or aspects of retro culture such as 1960s iconography.

Vintage “Pre-Tiki” Bar, Source: Don the Beachcomber Restaurant, Huntington Beach, CA (currently closed.)

Purists will point out that the tiki iconography didn’t surface until the mid-1950s and that the initial “pre-tiki” bars mostly featured decorations that evoked south pacific island life (vestiges of straw huts, bamboo, driftwood and palm trees) and nautical items such as Japanese glass floats, fishing nets, nautical lanterns, etc. The tiki statues, such as representations of Moai, the statues of the Easter Island, and many other forms started to appear in the mid-1950s.

Tiki iconography in the Tiki Tolteca bar, New Orleans. October 2020 (c)CE Hunt

The history of the whole tiki cultural phenomenon is rich and complex. Urban archeologist, Sven Kirsten, has written some outstanding histories of the culture. Book of Tiki and Tiki Pop are both impressive. He goes into some of the earliest literary foundations of the culture as well as other aspects such as the impact of movies of the era and the once close realtionship between tiki bars and the Hollywood film industry.

Source: Don the Beachcomber Restaurant, Huntington Beach, CA (currently closed.)

In recent years, tiki bars have begun to resurface on the American landscape. Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, owner of the excellent New Orleans tiki bar, Latitude 29, is a highly regarded “mixologist” and tiki anthropologist. He has published numerous popular books on vintage tropical drinks. Sippin’ Safari would be a great one to start with.

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s Latitude 29 in the French Quarter, October 2020 (c)CE Hunt

Popular American artist, Josh Agle (Shag), has incorporated tiki themes into his work and captured the imagination of a lot of Tiki fans. Pictured below is sample of his work. It was for the opening of a new tiki bar in Kansas City, Tikicat. Click here for more samples of Josh’s incredible work.

Tiki Cats and Kittens, an example of Josh Agle’s (Shag) fabulous work (acrylic on panel) https://shagstore.bigcartel.com/

There is also a great magazine, Exotica Moderne, to keep one abreast of Tiki culture. It covers many aspects of the Tiki scene, including music, drinks, food, bars, “Tiki Lit” and art.

Exotica Moderne Magazine

I look forward to you delving along with Steve, my protagonist, into tiki culture in The Sommières Sun this spring. Meanwhile, search out a good tiki bar near you, imbibe a couple of great cocktails and see if the “tiki” vibe affects you the way Beach suggests above.

___

In the coming weeks, as a bonus to those of you who enjoy a good tiki bar, I’ll review my two favorite tiki bars in the Big Easy–Latitude 29 and Tiki Tolteca, both of which are featured in The Sommières Sun.

Coming spring 2021

Why a Sequel?

After I finished A Moveable Marfa, my brother, Carl, also a published writer who played a key editing role in the book, asked me, “Are you ready for a sequel?” He said the characters in A Moveable Marfa were rich and well-developed, and there was more story there.

My response? “No! It’s finished!” I honestly thought I was done with Steve and what I thought was a colorful cast of characters on both sides of the Atlantic. I missed those characters and the interactions they had with each other and their distinctive worlds, but I just wasn’t feeling like I needed to say more. I just didn’t want to write a sequel for the sake of a sequel.

I thought it was settled. It was time to go enjoy a sunset or something…

Sunset, Paris 2011 ©CE Hunt

Then a few other readers reached out to me and spoke. They asked me when was the next book coming out? With those readers I knew personally, I challenged them with a “why do you ask?” The response was that they wanted to know what happens next. I thought it was settled. They felt otherwise. They felt there were numerous unresolved issues and the characters needed to tell us more about themselves and their worlds.

I reflected.

Driving into France on N-260 2009 ©CE Hunt

Maybe my readers were right. Certainly, there’d be curves in the road ahead for Steve. What was around the corner? Would things work out?

On a lark, I sat down in the spring of 2020, to just play around, see if I was feeling it. Maybe the readers were just being kind. I wasn’t convinced.

Then a funny thing happened.

I was shocked when the follow-on story almost started writing itself. The text I’d written almost literally handed me the title, The Sommières Sun, and I was all in. I called my brother and told him something that brothers are sometimes loath to do. I told him he was right.

Meanwhile he had begun writing a book: Paradoxes of Power. Knowing my passion for nature, he asked me to co-author a chapter with him on our society’s dysfunctional relationship with nature. I agreed, so for a while, I was working on both books at the same time.

Meanwhile, Carl was occasionally reviewing the text of my sequel and saw a passage he wanted to quote in a chapter on which he was collaborating with other authors on the dysfunction of power relationships concerning race in America. Consequently, there is an excerpt in Chapter 4 in Paradoxes of Power from The Sommières Sun, even before it is published. In the excerpt, a friend of Steve’s is laying into him about how our nation often takes for granted the contributions of non-white Americans and those who desire to join the ranks of US citizens.

Llança, Costa Brava, Spain, 2009 ©CE Hunt

When I started writing The Sommières Sun, I quickly realized Steve had many mysteries and challenges on his horizon. While the end of A Moveable Marfa signaled to the reader a possible outcome, Steve’s fate was far from sealed. Further, he still had a lot of growing to do to become the person and writer he wanted to be.

I am hopeful and modestly confident that The Sommières Sun won’t disappoint the reader. Many surprises and some intriguing new characters await Steve and their readers as we continue on this life journey with them, which, in some respects, is really universal to all of us.

The projected publication of The Sommières Sun is spring of 2021.

Paradoxes of Power was published last month and available now. All, I ask is, please finish A Moveable Marfa before you read the lengthy except in Chapter 4 of Paradoxes of Power. I wouldn’t want the ending of a A Moveable Marfa to be spoiled for you!

Spring 2021

Monique and the Gift of Resilience

Steve’s life in France seldom goes the way he expects. Surprises are not uncommon when traveling outside one’s nation. An acquaintance of his, Monique, offers up a few more surprises than most.

Steve, sitting in front of Au Petit Suisse Café, realizes he’s likely been stood up by Monique. He has a decision to make. He could sulk or move on and see what’s around the next corner. His new friend, Chester, helps him to move on. The group of friends he meets that night changes his experience in Paris mostly for the better. Within an hour he’d be drunk on sangria and laughing the night away with his dear old (new) friends.

Definitely a life lesson here. We’d all generally be better off reassessing situations after a disappointment to see how we can best rebound or even profit. Sometimes, the rebound is better than the anticipated “bound,” whatever a bound is.

No matter how one expresses it, “Carpe diem,” “Profitez du moment” or “Seize the moment,” it is generally good advice.

Wealth

In my novel, A Moveable Marfa, my character Steve has an in depth conversation with a French woman on the definition of wealth and impacts of technology.

It’s a profound question.

Sign proclaiming a phone booth near Pesmes, France ©CE Hunt 2004

When this sign was first installed, whether it was here or nearby, one can imagine the excitement of this development on the outskirts of Pesmes, France. A real connection to the outside world! Of course, the installation of a phone booth in this village was just the beginning of a dramatic transformation of humans’ relationship to information and in a real sense, wealth.

Pesmes, France ©CE Hunt 2004

Perhaps another way to pose this question would be, “Has technology adversely affected our wealth? Does it distract us from pursuing our real wealth? How many times have you spent an hour or so on the internet and marveled at how little you grew that hour, how little you made “your habitat” better? Did you become wealthier during that spell?

That of course depends on your definition of wealth.

In Chapter 37 of A Moveable Marfa, Steve and his French friend share a bottle of wine attempting to define wealth. The nexus of American notions of wealth with his friend’s French notions makes for a stimulating conversation. I won’t spoil it, but money is certainly not at the forefront in the final analysis.

Below are some images that in my eyes evoke elements of wealth…

Fort Davis National Historic Site ©CE Hunt 2007
Books that we connected with or made our world a bigger and more interesting place or sensitized us to something important
El lamento del torero — C E Hunt 2020 All Rights Reserved
Gettysburg National Historical Park, Little Round Top at Dusk — C E Hunt 2017 All Rights Reserved
A nice draft at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, New Orleans C E Hunt 2017 All Rights Reserved
Muffaletta at Napoleon House in New Orleans — C E Hunt 2017 All Rights Reserved

Beautiful scenery, great books, art, history, quality brews, good food …

But some of the most important aspects of true wealth can’t be fully captured in a photograph — love, caring, a good friend, health, spirit, spiritual maturity, unity, etc.

Steve and his friend do fair job tackling what is wealth over that bottle of wine in a small Moroccan restaurant in Sommières, France. Read chapter 37 in A Moveable Marfa if you want to “eavesdrop” on their conversation.

Sommières, France — C E Hunt 2004 All Rights Reserved

______________________________

In memoriam of George Floyd 1974-2020.

Like me, he was a native of Houston. I played sports against his high school, Jack Yates Senior High School. The last picture is a picture of George catching a touchdown pass while at Yates. I didn’t know George, but I feel very connected to him somehow and at the risk of stating the obvious, feel these things cannot be acceptable at all in our society. Things must change now. My sympathies to his family and fiancée. (Love, caring and unity are all forms of wealth. In this department, we have so much to do in the United States.)

The Gaze of the Blessed Virgin

With much of the longstanding buzz about the art scene in Marfa, one doesn’t hear as much about the traditional, but very important, aspects of the city.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, January 19, 2007 –C.E. Hunt

Though mostly a bit behind the scenes, St, Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa plays an important role in the early part of my novel, A Moveable Marfa. A very important scene takes place in front of the Statue of the Blessed Virgin inside the church. Mass is celebrated most days in the active parish, and the church contributes greatly of the fabric of the more traditional aspects of the city. At times the avant-garde expressions of the artistic community of Marfa creates tension with the more traditional aspects of the community. Other times, they complement each other. Regardless, it is an important influence to the overall cultural landscape of the city and nearby region.

The roots of Catholicism run deep in the area.

Though Presidio County had been inhabited by indigenous tribes for thousand of years, Catholicism started to take root in the region in the 1500s with the arrival of Spanish expeditions across the region. The first Spaniards likely came to area in 1535. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions stopped at the Native American pueblo, placed a cross on the mountainside and called the village La Junta de las Cruces (at a site south of modern day Marfa near the modern-day City of Presidio). The history of St. Mary’s Parish dates to 1875 when Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission was established in Marfa in a small building west of the present town limits.

[St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Marfa, Texas], photograph, 1964; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth87871/m1/1/: accessed May 16, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Marfa Public Library.

More background on St. Mary’s Catholic Church

In 1889 the population of Marfa and the surrounding area became great enough that Our Lady of Guadalupe was established as a parish. As a parish, Marfa gained its own resident priest.

The cornerstone of the present day building is dated 1889. However, the people ran out of funds and building was delayed for a time. During this time, services were held in a building which had been a wool storehouse. When funds again became available, the church was finished.

From the time the parish was established in 1889 with one priest until 1912 when there were four priests, there was no rectory. The priests lived in the back rooms of the church building. A rectory was finally built in 1912.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Marfa, Texas, photograph, Date Unknown; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth87869/m1/1/: accessed May 16, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Marfa Public Library.

At one time, Marfa actually had two Catholic churches. In 1917 a second church, Sacred Heart Church, was built at the northwest corner of Highland Ave. and San Antonio St. It was dedicated on December 27, 1917. That same year Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was enlarged and remodeled. In 1945, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was again enlarged. The name of the Church was changed to St. Mary’s.

In 1959, St. Mary’s Church and Sacred Heart Church were made one and the Sacred Heart property was sold. St. Mary’s was again enlarged. Furnishings and materials from the Sacred Heart Church, including adobe bricks and the stained glass windows, were used to renovate and beautify St. Mary’s Church. (Primary Source: https://churchmarfa.blogspot.com/)

Credit: The Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso
Reportedly, the 1927 interior. Credit: [Interior of St. Mary’s Catholic church in the late 1920s],photograph, 1927~;(https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth39711/m1/1/: accessed May 16, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Marfa Public Library.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, January 19, 2007 –C.E. Hunt
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, January 19, 2007 –C.E. Hunt
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, January 19, 2007 –C.E. Hunt

Per a 1960’s history of the church, the church is, like many historic Marfa structures, constructed of adobe blocks. The exterior walls are reported to be three feet thick. Like Saint Mary’s and its history, this preponderance of adobe architecture is just another special aspect of the City of Marfa.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, January 19, 2007 –C.E. Hunt

Mas de Peuch (or Steve’s place in Southern France)

In A Moveable Marfa, Steve rents a gîte on an old farm not far from Calvisson and Sommières in Languedoc (about 22 km from Nîmes). He wants to get away from Paris and his curious group of friends there and write. The area around the gîte is a beautiful area featuring many small villages, vineyards and olive groves.

April 2004, C E Hunt All Rights Reserved

Here is the patio where Steve writes his “Great American novel” and philosophizes with Brites well into the wee hours of the morning.

April 2004, C E Hunt All Rights Reserved

Here is the front of Steve’s gîte. Small but quite welcoming and perfect for his writing.

Villevielle, next to Sommières, has an olive cooperative where locals can bring their olives to be pressed for oil. Steve and his Brazilian friend, Brites, visit it in the book.

April 2004, C E Hunt All Rights Reserved
April 2004, C E Hunt All Rights Reserved

I’ll share more on Sommières in the future. It plays a key role in the book.

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Toshiba Digital Camera

I myself was fortunate enough to visit the cooperative “one day” and had a wonderful chat with Jean François Thurmond, the manager. It was the first time I had the opportunity to do an olive oil tasting. Jean was a very nice chap. I was learning French at the time, and he somehow understood me rather well. For that, I had an instant admiration for him.