Yet another layer

Welcome back yet again. The Navillus Press also went back to learn still more about what lies behind the Oregon Variations.

Navillus Press: We have read “The Eastbank Elegies” forwards and backwards, but still haven’t found the theme of loneliness.

Sullivan: Then try it as an acrostic. Reading the first letter of each line from top to bottom, you’ll find “BACHI ALONE ENOLA SULLI VANII”

Navillus Press: Yet another homage to Bach?

Sullivan: I built three harpsichords and bought a pipe organ in order to explore his work. He’s a complex composer.

Navillus Press: Two anagrams you specifically mention are “Vasily Luchabnek” and “an illusive batch.” How do we unravel those?

Sullivan: As “Sullivan Bach key” and “Sullivan Bach tie.”

Navillus Press: These word games keep cropping up.

Sullivan: (Sigh) It’s true. You don’t have to go far to uncover N’nahoj in “Chab” as Johann Bach. On the other hand, I believe the CARES-ALONE-ROTOR-ENOLA-SERAC palindromic crossword square I invented in “Hemlock” is the first of its kind in English. Can you think of another?

Navillus Press: On page 84, the words "closer to Boardman" seem to be floating out of place. Is this an anagram for "a loco bard's mentor"?

Sullivan: No. It's a typo in the printed version of the book.

Navillus Press: Many of the stories are sad, but “Birdsong” strikes a particularly poignant note for anyone who has traveled abroad or tried to learn another language. Is there any truth to the idea that people could learn to understand birds?

Sullivan: I don’t know. Redwing blackbirds probably aren’t as good a subject as I describe in this story. Their songs really do sound a lot the same. But the story of the Dolittle Foundation is based on a real-life tragedy with a Northwest angle. Greg Mortenson’s 2007 book, Three Cups of Tea, described his confused descent from a Himalayan mountain climbing expedition, his welcome by a remote Balti clan, and his subsequent efforts to repay their kindness by building schools in Himalayan villages. Then CBS “60 Minutes” aired a scathing attack, in which Mornenson’s rival climber, Jon Krakauer, claimed that Mortenson had distorted the truth and diverted funds to his own use. The release of Krakauer’s book, Three Cups of Deceit, was timed to accompany the television attack.

Navillus Press: Were the claims against Mortenson true?

Sullivan: As in "Birdsong," the claims are not completely false, but leave a completely false impression. The lesson, unfortunately, is that you can really only understand your own idiolect. We are forever lonely captives in a cage of language.

Navillus Press: Thank you for this discussion.

Sullivan: I look forward to meeting you again.