The pretty good books of Susan Larson

How People Talk in “Sam (a pastoral)”

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“They All Sound So Real!”


Several of my readers have remarked to me that the conversations in “Sam (a pastoral)” sound as if ‘real people were talking.’  I am really flattered when they say that! And I think it’s true.


I spent a lot of time listening to my neighbors Upstate in Sam-Land.  These good folks had a huge repertory of epic tales about farming, hunting, and the crazy things that they or other people had done. Their language was rich and antique, their comic timing was gorgeous, and if they repeated themselves over the years, that was just fine with me.


The characters in “Sam” are based on many of these fine folks. I am especially indebted to a venerable patriarch, a tart-tongued farmer’s wife, an elfin farm child, and a series of Zen Master farriers.


 I have their wonderful styles of talking stuck firmly in my mind’s ear, and I did my best to write them down in “Sam.” The book, with a few exceptions, is fiction, but the flavor and the savor of the talk is true as true.


I was also familiar with the wise and foolish sayings of my poor parents, as they struggled to make sense of their lives and of their children. I adopted their style of verbal flailing at their mulishly ungovernable offspring, and used it for my Mom and Dad characters; but I firmly state that, except for a few instances, my actual parents are innocent of any of the wild doings in “Sam.”


Sam himself has many things to say, which I have translated into English for the reader. He was extremely communicative and had lots of opinions. He expressed himself in pantomime, and also with grunts or moans of bliss, sighs of resignation, and his own patented lip-popping, which he used to express his frustration at not being allowed to gallop. We called this phenomenon “Mupping,” and still make the sound ourselves when we are annoyed beyond words.       






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