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Columns / Short Stories
Shep was always writing. . .

May 1971


Kotzebue, Alaska

Have you ever looked hard at the background of a Salvador Dali painting? Almost any Dali has this nightmarish, still, rolling, treeless plain stretching to infinity. The sky is always dead and lifeless, like the skin of Count Dracula after munching on a virgin. When I was in 7th grade we had a once-a-week class called Art Appreciation, during which our art teacher, a Miss Fife who, naturally, wore burlap skirts she wove herself and clanking chunks of home baked ceramics dangling from her ears, passed out folders of art prints of the great masters in her hopeless struggle to hammer Culture somehow into our skulls. Probably generations of potential diggers of Beauty have been innocently turned off forever by classes such as these. It would be too easy to blame Miss Fife. She was a victim of it too. The day she passed around the Dali prints was the day she scored with me. I knew there had to be someplace like the places that Dali drew, and by God I think I've found it. Not that I've been consciously looking, or anything like that, but it's just that lots of mythic things and places are always just below the surface of all of us, waiting to pop out when the right cue shows up. Oz, Wonderland, and the one my Old Man always figured he'd go hunting for when he got the time, the Elephants' Graveyard, where old elephants go to die, leaving behind billions of rubles in peerless ivory. . .

Copyright: 1971 Car and Driver