The American fire scene is simply too sprawling, varied, and vigorous to shoehorn into a single narrative, however complex. To convey some of that ardor, I plan to write comments as I conduct my research. I thought of this enterprise as a kind of fire journalism, or perhaps as real-time history, the field notes of a scholar on fire. The pieces will focus on ideas, sites, or people – stuff that is integral to the story but cannot be inserted into a master narrative except by severe editing.
Almost from the onset, however, they began grouping themselves into regional studies and have assumed a literary character that I liken to a nonfiction novella. I plan five such suites, with a sixth collection – “Spot Fires and Slopovers” – to catch topics and places that don’t group in the same way. To bind the two projects I am using the title for the narrative, “Between two fires,” to conclude each of the surveys as a way to link region with nation.
Even so, I’ve had to create two other groupings for stuff that doesn’t fit those categories. One, “Making History,” offers thoughts on the art and craft of doing history as it appears from the field. The other, “Here and There,” offers thoughts on assorted fire-related topics.
- Florida: A Fire Mosaic – America’s most pyric red state .
- California’s Fire Complex - a survey of fire’s Golden State.
- Southwest Suite – where burning deserts and blazing woods meet flaming sunsets. Underway, with essays written over the previous few years and others as opportunities permit.
- Middle Ground - fire’s oft-overlooked but vital heartland, with a special novella-length study of Texas.
- Where the Mountains Roar – the Northern Rockies whose fiery tremors have repeatedly shaken the national infrastructure.
- Spot Fires and Slopovers – essays on places and themes that do not fall under the above regional rubrics, including Alaska, the Northeast, Utah, the Lake States, and national programs.
- Making History – thoughts on doing history from the field
- Here and There – various topics on fire that do not fit into regional slots