Paul Bunyan

12/06/2008 § 2 Comments

It’s a lovely afternoon to be inside; looking out at the dreary snow and bundled up passers-by. Perfect weather for reading and drinking coffee.

As I trudge through my edition of Legends and Tales of the American West I find myself gravitating towards stories about Pecos Bill, Satan, and Paul Bunyan. There are two in particular that caught my attention; both about Paul Bunyan.

One of the things about these American tales I love so much is their obsession with whiskey, tobacco, sex, and all things enormous. Not to say that Italian, Russian, Irish, and many other folktales of varying origin ignore these things. It is just striking how people in the “new frontier” were focusing on distraction from their frontier instead of mythologizing the elements like the forest, desert, lakes, and mountains. This is not to say that the collective authors of these stories did not do that, but it seems to be secondary to the characters uncouth, feral desires.

Again, as last time, I had to read much of it a second time, and then a third aloud to Gemma. Some particular highlights from the story Paul Bunyan and His Little Blue Ox:

“Paul Bunyan was big like hell, fought like hell, and lied like hell.”

“[Paul] could jump over the Mississippi River and back again without touching the ground.”

“Paul had an ox, a rather large beast that grew two feet every time Paul looked at it.”

The whole story, all three pages of it, is sentence after sentence of unbelievable descriptions. It’s like a shopping list of the baddest ass shit one could ever hope of a giant man with a giant ox and giant daughter.


§ 2 Responses to Paul Bunyan

  • Gemma says:

    I really like that these are the crazy stories that our country grew up with. You should read me more while I knit.

  • Jer says:

    I didn’t even know he had a giant daughter. If I ever have a giant-sized daughter, I’m going name her “Paul Bunyan Jr.” >:0

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