Farewell MacBook Pro

Yesterday my computer finally died. I can’t tell you the amount of abuse that machine has taken over the last five and half years. I am now dictating this on my phone… Which is not going to be a good development for anybody — I was thinking about this this morning when I read a review of Mc Murtry’s biography of Custer in the LA Review of Books. The author first of all, referred to McMurtry as the greatest living scribe of the American West… I had to think about that for a moment and then realized that, perhaps it was true, as so many of the others that I’ve admired and loved have now died.

Then, in the course of the review… which was not particularly positive… One line bothered me. It was in the last paragraph:

Custer isn’t worthy of being the central figure in the story of the end of American settlement, yet that’s exactly what he is here. He isn’t complex enough to be an antihero, nor noble enough to be tragic, but that’s how he’s described. He is ineffectual as a villain, in that he dies so easily. In short, Custer was a pathetic careerist whose chosen field just happened to be the slaughter of innocents. As much as McMurtry wants a mustache-twisting villain, Custer doesn’t really ever step into the role of the archetypal bad guy. McMurtry seems to know all of this but doesn’t care to do the necessary work to reconcile the role of Custer as a historical figure with his own writerly estimation of his character. McMurtry creates a literary Custer who is in many ways much more real, and also much less satisfying, than the legend.

In short, Custer was a pathetic careerist whose chosen field just happened to be the slaughter of innocents.

That was the line in particular that bothered me. It is incredibly reductive about the history of the American West, in particular the history of the Indian wars. I think I am just getting old and crotchety. That one line robs Native Americans of their own agency… well, of course, there were many innocents on both sides…

The last 10 years of my life have been spent reading about the latter part of the 19th century and the “Indian question”. I should’ve been a historian. They should never let 18-year-olds choose what career path they are going to take. Well, I was almost a waitress so there’s that.

Anyway… Reading the review from Twitter this morning reminded me that my computer had died… And wait for it…

All of the research that I’ve done for the last number of years. And my Scrivner application with my novel research.

How do you retrieve data from a computer that has died?

Between that and my previous blog inadvertently having been totally trashed… Not a good year for me and my writing or conversely, a perfect year to start fresh.

9 responses

    • Even though I figured out the data stuff… I am going to take this is a signal to indeed look at this with fresh eyes as if it were a fresh start. I think this was a lesson and not taking things for granted… Nice having an exchange with you the other day XO XO let’s chat soon


  1. That sucks!! I am so sorry 😦 Can you bring it to a local data recovery place? That is devastating….hoping something can be recovered.

    I have been thinking of you because reading the Little House books to the kids has led me down a lot of rabbit holes regarding the Indian Wars, Manifest Destiny, the Minnesota Massacre, the Trail of Tears, etc. It’s not a well-known period of our history to me and it has been fascinating (as well as profoundly sad) to learn more…

    • I am seriously thinking about going back to school for for an interdisciplinary Phd in American studies– focusing on Dakota language and 19th century history of the American West. I would probably also work in a PhD in creative writing that seems ridiculous with my MFA but the move now is to make the PhD the terminal degree. If you are interested the Minnesota historical Society has a wonderful online database where you can look at photographs and other things. Also, if the region or time is really interesting to you and you want another recommendation for books just let me know I have a list of great suggestions!

      I should go back to those books… I loved them as a child. And don’t get me started on the TV show… I think I thought I lived in it. 😉



  2. I still feel a little sick every time I think about this… I also imagine what it would mean if I lost all my dissertation data… it also made me think about British anthropologist Edmund Leach, who did his dissertation research in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1939, got caught up in World War II, joined the Burmese army, and lost all his research notes. Which he then re-created (which baffles me) from memory… and then lost all THOSE notes. Again! So he re-wrote them, from memory, AGAIN. Crazy. I have a quote from him on my public blog: “all ethnography is fiction.” Somehow he wrote his dissertation, which he published in 1957. What baffles me further in all of this is the fact that he got married in 1940 and he and his wife had two children, all in the middle of this WW2 craziness.

    So. Perhaps it can be done… Phoenix-like, from the ashes?

    • In a weird turn of events that reveals the digital divide W figured out how to reboot it long enough to back up the most essential files. Such. Relief. If I had to bring it back from memory I would be screwed. It brought in stark relief the investment I have in this though I am never working a hard as I feel I should.
      I’d love to read about your academic work sometime. I’m so in awe of you.



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