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Lost Writer Wednesday

LaSelle Gilman
LaSelle Gilman

by Dani Kerr

This is the first installment of Lost Writer Wednesdays blog series, an eight-week series and companion to NETNebraska’s Lost Writers of the Plains radio programming. Each week, we’ll spotlight long-forgotten writers once published in the early days of Prairie Schooner. For the full multi-media experience, download the iBook in the iTunes store.

LaSelle Gilman started his writing career at the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Gilman studied as an undergraduate student from 1926-1930. Fed up with the capricious Nebraska weather, Gilman penned an articled entitled “Four Reasons Why the Author is Going to Leave the Midwest after Graduation,” in which each reason corresponds with the atrocious weather of the Midwest seasons. After he graduated in 1930, Gilman made good on his word, setting sail for warmer seas to work as a foreign correspondent first in New Zealand and then in China.

Gilman’s foreign service inspired the pulpy adventure novels he would later write and publish. For example, he was working for the Honolulu Advertisers in 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and even watched a battle from the masthead of a US ship. After World War II, Gilman returned to the United States to work for the Hearst newspapers in San Francisco. His first novel was Shanghai Deadline, a story about Tony Colin, an American press correspondent who happens upon a plot of corruption. Dodge published it in 1936 and Prairie Schooner reviewed the novel in the Winter 1936 Issue. His other novels include: The Golden Horde (1942), The Red Gate (1952), The Dragon’s Mouth (1954), and Sow the Wind (1957). Gilman’s last published novel is Pesquera Bay (1957), which is a story about conflict over fishing rights on the US Pacific coast.

Gilman’s novels are reflective of their time, emphasizing both the fear of the loss of American economic power and a national anxiety about the spread of Communism. The Lost Writers of the Plains takes a new look at Gilman’s story “The Temples of Learning,” by LaSelle Gilman, which appeared in the Summer 1928 issue of Prairie Schooner. Read it in our archives here. Gilman’s other most popular work in Prairie Schooner is a short story titled “Yarns in Color” (Winter 1928), about a doctor who visits a Navajo reservation in New Mexico in hopes to cure the consumption plaguing the community. LaSelle Gilman died in 1964 of cancer, but his voice finds new life in this archival project, where it still resonates.

 


Lost Writers of the Plains is a collaboration between Prairie Schooner, the Center for Great Plains Studies, and NET Nebraska. For more on Gilman and his life, click here. To view the entire Lost Writers of the Plains project, visit the NET Nebraska website.