On this episode of Arts & Letters, University of Central Arkansas writer and professor John Vanderslice talks about his book Days On Fire. The novel explores the tumultuous days of painter Vincent Van Gogh from his early life in Holland to his hospitalization in St. Paul's Asylum in Saint Remy. Along the way, we discuss Van Gogh's many obsessions, including the painter's relationships with religion, women, family and work.
Vanderslice reads and describes a series of fictional sketches in which the painter interacts with his siblings, confronts his father, elicits help from his brother Theo, and observes and paints the world outside his window at St. Paul's Hospital.
“Stretched across his bed, he stared at the squat window. Through the small square of glass, he saw the world outside like a landscape on the wall: the broad flat field that lay to the east and abutted a collection of winter bare trees, stoic and senseless. That's how he would paint this place he saw from his cell window--this studio Peyron had allowed him--even if these colors never really registered in his eyes."
John Vanderslice teaches in the Creative Writing program at the University of Central Arkansas. His short stories, essays, poems, and one-act plays have been published in more than eighty journals and anthologies. His short story collection Island Fog was named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction titles of 2014. His historical novel The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is forthcoming in 2017 from Burlesque Press.
This program was made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Music for this episode is provided by Silas Hite and performed by Katie Abendroth, Ethan Young, Open Fields, Starr Mitchell, R. Ring, the Damsels in Distress, Off The Cuff, Brian Nahlen, Wil Vanderslice and Amy Jo Savannah.