On Sunday, my friend Kevin and I sat down with David Shetzline, author of Heckletooth 3, one the greatest overlooked American novels of the last 50 years, and talked of Heckletooth 3, and other matters, for over three hours. It was easily one of the top moments of my many years reading, studying and writing about Oregon history and literature. It’s right up there with interviewing Dr. Cameron Bangs of Vortex I fame and Maurice Lucas, the bad ass Portland Trail Blazer.
Thank you David, for sharing the remarkable story of this incredible novel, your writing career, and other stories that probably deserve novels or films.
(And thank you to his daughters Andrea and Erika for arranging the meeting.)
Published by Random House in 1969, set in and around the mythical coastal town of Sixes and the Oregon woods, which happened to be engulfed in fire in the plot, Heckletooth 3 is a classic, a forgotten classic, that never saw a paperback edition, was never reprinted, and is almost impossible to find except for a few rare copies. It’s pretty much been purged from Oregon libraries except University of Oregon’s.
I am overjoyed to announce here that David has agreed to allow the publication of an e-book version of H3 scanned from the original version. (More on that project later and how you might be able to assist the resurrection of this novel.) He is also going to write an introduction to the e-version!
We are also on the hunt for the missing manuscript of David’s novel called October All Over, about his experience as a salmon troller out of Newport in the 1970s. Our hope is to locate it and somehow have it published. Where there is a will, there is a way. That’s been my whole publishing career and want to see if we can make it happen for this novel. It must exist.
Again, thank you David. It was something else to read that final magisterial paragraph of H3 to you, and we both were tearing up. It was also fantastic to break huckleberry pie with you, pie made by Kevin’s wife Wendy, from coastal huckleberries! Don’t get no more Oregon than that.
Welcome back to the Oregon world of letters David Shetzline. Oregon is very much a different place than it was in 1969, but H3 is more relevant today than it was upon its release. That’s why it’s a masterpiece.