Prologue to the Wind

Now is the time to preorder Daniel Canty’s new book, The United States of Wind. It is at the press and will be available in just a week or two – which is about as long as it took for this author to take a journey with the wind, a journey that is crystallized in this unique travelogue. To pique your interest, you may enjoy reading the book’s prologue, the majority of which (pages 5 to 8 inclusive of the book) is reproduced below.

Translated by Oana Avasilichioaei, The United States of Wind is a gentle road book, a melancholy blue guide written in an airy, associative prose. Its images coalesce and dissipate, carried away through the outer and inner American landscape. It mixes the tropes of road narrative, poetic fabulation, and philosophical memoir, and reaches towards images on the horizon of memory, to find out where they come from, while coming to the foreordained realization that, wherever memory may lead us, its images will be long gone when we get there and most probably were never even there at all.

Friday, November 26

Montreal and Chicago

The United States of Wind ~ I’m waiting for a sign from the wind seekers. Ten days ago, Patrick and Alexis left Chicago, the windy city. At this precise moment only they know their exact location. The wind doesn’t breathe a word or think. It just welcomes them into its disorder. As for myself, I accepted long ago to abide by the plan. My bags are packed. Tomorrow, I will take over from Alexis at a yet unknown location. Tonight, I will receive an electronic ticket for the United States and, at daybreak, go to the airport. Then surrender myself for nine days to the will of the wind.

A few months ago, I accepted Patrick Beaulieu’s invitation to take part in the project Ventury: A Trans-Frontier Odyssey Trailing American Winds. I had prior experience accompanying Patrick on another odyssey, Vector Monarca, tracking, on the ground, the physical and metaphorical signs of the annual migration of monarch butterflies across America. That is a story of another time, for another time. Now, I will be the second in a trio of authors, the pivot between Alexis Pernet, a French landscape architect, who could think of no better way to get closer to the American landscape than this, and Dominiq “Dauphin” Vincent, a writer and old friend, who desperately needed a break from his job in hospital administration. Patrick, a visual artist, will drive for the entire continental performance and make images of the winds encountered. Meanwhile, the three of us in turn will share the role of on-board poet and cartographer, each writing a travelogue of our journey, enriching and influencing the day-to-day propulsion with our observations.

The adventure’s vehicle of choice will be the Blue Rider, a venerable Ford Ranger pickup crested with a weathervane and a retractable wind cone. Aboard the truck, we will surrender ourselves to the drifting wind and try as best we can to align the ground configuration of America’s highways with the fluidity of the air currents above. The procedure is crystal clear: every morning, from the end of fall to the beginning of winter, we will hoist the wind cone, consult the compass, and go wherever the wind wills it.

I will become a wind seeker. I will discover The United States of Wind and bring back a winged book.


The Green Lantern ~ Partir au vent. Surrender myself to forces greater than me. Obey a reasoning that is without reason. Je sais. Je sais. But it’s in my nature to be anxious so I try to stay informed.

November 21, 2010

André Normand,
I hope you are taking good care of my partners in velocity.
Perhaps they will run circles around Chicago and we can meet when I take the relay.
Merci for organizing this!


A few hours ago, Andrew Norman, our friend in Chicago who had been the fixer for Ventury’s inauguration, wrote about his last sighting of Alexis and Patrick from the doorstep of the Green Lantern Gallery.

November 22, 2010

Hayy Daniel,
It was great to spend time with them, and we bid them farewell from the Green Lantern Gallery yesterday afternoon. The wind was blowing southwest, so we figured they would probably end up in Indiana. No one really knew what they should see there. Indianapolis? Fort Wayne? I suggested Gary, where Michael Jackson and the rest of the five were born and raised, but my friend Bryce warned them of the urban blight that Gary would present to them. Yes, hoping for wind that takes them around the lake and back to Chicago.


Bryce, a friend of Andrew, had opened a gallery that doubled as a small independent press, in the front half of a former commercial space where he lives. The Green Lantern, a somewhat secret artistic base, is named after an American superhero, the inheritor of a prophetic lantern and a ring that allows him to magically shape matter.

When I first met Andrew Norman—a slender guy with a thick mop of black hair who goes by the interchangeable names of Andrew or Norm—he immediately reminded me of the magician David Copperfield.1 The spiritual closeness of friendship involves a certain degree of magic. In mentioning Indianapolis and Indiana, Andrew had a premonition: the first team would drift towards Wisconsin, while Chicago and Gary would be part of my wind tour.

Tomorrow, I will land in the States, and Patrick and Alexis will tell me about their night at the Green Lantern. There, they presented Ventury to a handful of curious spectators in an English broken by Patrick’s Quebecois nasal intonation and Alexis’s rounded French inflection. Those in attendance could be counted on ten fingers, which neither lessened the impact of the gesture nor reduced the need to believe in it. The orchestration of their departure was like a sleight of hand. In the guise of a goodbye and impetus, Patrick pulled a white goose feather from his pocket. He held it in his hand the way one wets a finger to feel the wind’s direction, aspire to an intimate knowledge of it. The gentleness of the gesture is ritualistic, almost scientific. Patrick held the feather’s shaft between his fingertips. It fluttered nervously. When he separated index from thumb, all eyes watched its flying whirl. Nothing in the hands. Rien dans les airs. The feather flew away. We no longer thought about it. Only about the image left behind by its disappearance. Patrick, his head in the air, his sights resolutely set on the future, turned his back on the gathering. He was off. Alexis, with the dreamy, faintly amused air that suits him so well, followed close behind. They got into their handsome, twilit truck. Started the engine. Disappeared at the corner of Chicago Avenue and the wind. In the rear-view mirror, the small group standing on the sidewalk began to disperse. A faint smile, as fine as a plume of smoke, hovered on their lips.


1 Despite the Oriental splendour of his name, David Seth Kotkin, a native of New Jersey, thought it wise to borrow his stage name from one of Charles Dickens’s heroic paupers. He would become a famous millionaire.

The United States of Wind ($16.95) will soon be available from Talonbooks.