I Could Hardly Imagine the Carnage

From In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country by Kim Barnes:

in-the-wilderness-coming-of-age-in-unknown-coI had seen hippies only on Nan’s TV, and their wondrous hair, bright colors and dangling beads amazed me. Even so, I could hardly connect them to the monsters the townspeople spoke of over coffee at the cafe. If we weren’t careful to run them off the minute they set their sandaled feet inside the village, they said, the hippies would poison our water tower with LSD. The results would be disastrous: normally decent men, women and children running naked through the streets of Pierce, murdering their neighbors, throwing themselves from the hotel’s balcony, addicts until death to the mind-altering drug. The entire population of our community would be destroyed, the wiser ones said, shaking their heads in grim contemplation.

I could hardly imagine the carnage. I pictured the burly Mr. Butler with his ax, running bare-chested after his neighbor Mrs. Ball, her enormous breasts flopping loose in front of her. I wasn’t sure what the “orgy” was that I heard spoken of as a result of this behavior, but it must be something close to “ogre,” and certainly Mr. Butler and Mrs. Ball barreling down Main Street naked fit that bill.

A great way to kick off a new year of reading, as this gut-wrenching memoir is a fantastic book. I saw Kim Barnes at the Montana Festival of the Book this past fall, and I can’t wait to dig into some of her fiction now.

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