Ill-Fated Napoleon, Arkansas

Holy shit. So here is how Napoleon, Arkansas was lost. Napoleon stood at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Arkansas rivers. Before the Mississippi reached the Arkansas, it took a drunken turn toward Beulah, Mississippi, and spooned the fat curve of its belly along her main street. Where the river’s belly swung back west to meet up with the Arkansas is where Napoleon sat.

There was a war. And the Confederates sat out in the Beulah bend, just east of Napoleon, firing their artillery at the union forces on the north side of the bend, waiting for them to skirt past Beulah, and then firing the same guns at them again on the south side. In March of 1863, Lieutenant Commander Thomas O. Selfridge of the Union Army had his men dig a channel in the soft earth, using the force of the river to aid in its creation. The Mississippi’s beer belly became Lake Beulah and the river, when it was done stretching to its full size in the new channel, ran right up to the front steps of Napoleon and a flood in 1874 wiped Napoleon off the maps.

I’m honestly surprised no mischief makers have tried this just north of Tiptonville, though I suppose these days that would get you sent to prison for a good long time.

But still, the amount of rerouting of the river done by folks who aren’t the Corps is a real eye-opener to me.

More Granju Stuff

I should be shocked to learn this, but honestly, I am not. I mean, I’m surprised to learn she was under indictment, but on the other hand, it explains why she didn’t call the authorities when she should have. She weighed going to prison against a kid’s life and Henry lost.

But I am not shocked that there is even more evidence that this whole “investigation” was hinky. When a kid ends up dead after being at the house of most people, those people get hassled. The fact that there was so little hassle has never sat well with me. This is just more evidence of how strange the absence of hassle is.

And I sincerely hope the TBI is investigating, since the social circles of relatively comfortable white people who all abuse the same kinds of drugs in Knoxville has got to be pretty small. I think one answer the whole state deserves is whether Henry’s death was “investigated” how it was in order to shield the judge or other high-ranking Knoxvillians from discovery.

If it’s just a shitty investigation, fine. That sucks for Henry’s family, but fine.

But folks, I just don’t feel like this is incompetence, you know?

Oh! Harcourt Makes a Move

Amazon has a publishing arm, a legitimate publishing arm, which has been in the news for handing out wonderfully high royalties and for the animosity traditional bookstores have expressed toward Amazon’s publishing venture.

You could publish with Amazon, but you weren’t going to find your book in Barnes & Noble.

Except that now Amazon has signed a deal with Harcourt for distribution. Amazon’s books will appear to be Harcourt books. Now, bookstores could just refuse to carry Harcourt books, but that’s a little harder to accomplish than just cutting off Amazon. So, it appears for now that a work-around had been found.

I’m curious to see how the industry responds to this.

My Second Attempt this Winter at Rejoining the Land of the Living

I really need it to either be cold or not cold. I think this cycling from one to the other is part of what accounts for me getting two Christmas colds in the same damn season. But I’m going to shower and go into work today and try to make a go of it. I am feeling much better. I’m not quite to the point of sitting around fretting about what’s going on at work (a sure sign I’m well enough to be there), but I’m not looking forward to spending another day trapped in the house with these animals.

I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle yesterday which I expected to like more than I did. I just had a hard time getting into the rhythm of the language of the book. I do think Mary Catherine is an incredible character, though.  And I think some of the subtler touches are incredibly done. I mean, they say almost nothing about the brother, but the threat the cousin plays to the sisters’ relationship and the fantasy Merricat has about her whole family doting on her, it’s just not hard to guess why he had to be dispatched.

I also am about halfway through Life on the Mississipppi, which I wish I were reading in a reading group with barge captains now. Hell, I might even be civil to an Army Corps of Engineer person, if he or she were in my Life on the Mississippi reading group. One factual thing that interested me was that Twain says it regularly happened where there’d be a curve in the river and jackass land owners would go out and cut a ditch from where the curve started to where it ended, thus changing the river in order to give their property riverfront and strand some previous river-front property owner in the middle of Missouri. This sounds similar to how W. told us they ended up with those problems down at the big dam in Louisiana.

Also, he keeps mentioning Napoleon, Arkansas, which I cannot find on any map. It supposedly used to be right across the way from Wellington, Mississippi, but I didn’t find any evidence for a Wellington, Mississippi in Bolivar County. I did find a Lake Whittington which is an old bend in the river now cut off from the river. But whereabouts along the river there opposite Bolivar county Napoleon might have been, I can’t say.

Twain did tell a cool little ghost story about a boat that didn’t realize that the bend in the river wasn’t the main river any more, but being in the middle of forming one of these horseshoe lakes, and so the boat went down the bend, got stuck there with no way out, and even still may be seen out in the middle of some dude’s field, trying to take a way the river doesn’t go any more.

Obviously, I’m enjoying the shit out of Twain.

Edited to add: It should go without saying that I laughed when I realized Rosedale was in Bolivar County, thus adding to the legend that everything in this blog can be brought back around to Robert Plant. Well, and thus probably Robert Johnson. But still.