It’s midafternoon in Bellingham, WA, and a bonfire is burning behind my house—split timber from last winter’s tree fall is towered high and bright, and an October breeze is gently feeding the flames. There’s a break after weeks of rain and the wind has blown even the grass dry, begging us to sit outside.
With me is David James Duncan—the revered author, storied activist and a deep spiritual and ecological mind. He’s just finished the forthcoming novel Sun House, a sweeping 1,100-page odyssey through the American West portraying what he calls “our biological and spiritually inescapable realities and the love and justice they demand.”
“I tried to stick to a more practical length,” Duncan says, “but the state of a world in which problems are no longer political, but epic, overwhelming, mythical, left me pining to pen an epic in what the praise poet Anne Porter called ‘an altogether different language.’ I wanted this read to feel like walking El Camino in Spain, or the Pacific Crest Trail, or taking a monthlong spiritual retreat in a place far from the nearest asphalt and fumes. I’m hoping Sun House found that different language, and it’s my best and most timely work. It’s certainly been the most costly.”