Kickass, the doorstop dog, reports that buried deep in the keeper’s memory landfill is a layer that includes “Spoon River Anthology,” in which Edgar Lee Masters writes free verse epitaphs of those “sleeping on the hill” in his imaginary town patterned after Lewistown, Ill.
Publication of the book in 1915 made Masters into a literary sensation, and moved some Lewistown residents, including Master’s mother, to demand that the book be banned in local schools.
While the keeper once garnered public rebuke from his mother for something he had written, he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to get his novel—“Margaret’s War” banned by his hometown of Barron, WI., his thinking being that banning encourages a book’s sales.
Over the years, Lewistown has come to embrace Spoon River Anthology and its author with annual celebrations, so maybe with the passage of time there is hope for the keeper. He expresses as much in the epitaph style of Spoon River:
“Bill used words to make newspaper column points, some were good, some were trite. He wanted to be Hemingway and live the literary thrill: his work was used to wrap fish guts, now he sleeps on the hill.”