NVDT #42 – Pilgrimages and Pugnuckling – Two-fer

The Prompt – Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage? If so, where and why?


Physical: My daughter and I were guests when Dr. Wife received an invitation to stay at Exeter College, Oxford, all expenses paid, to present part of her dissertation Rhetorical Stance in William Morris (aka William Morris – Reluctant Rhetorician) at the William Morris Centennial. Inundated with Pre-Raphaelites for a week. Went to Kelmscott House or Manor, visited the graves. In London we went to the Tate. While the academics pontificated my daughter and I ran rooms of several other museums (I have an addiction to late Taylor) the rooms and gardens and the alleys of Oxford, walked in the footsteps of Dexter’s Inspector Morse, ate tiny, expensive deli sandwiches and ice cream on the High Street, got off the main drag and collected a pile of local punk band handbills and EP promo from a sympathetic CD/record shop owner. (Who took one look at obliging shaggy Dad and knee-high Doc Martens teenage daughter and saved himself a trip to the dumpster). Rode in a bus the width of the road (with a few academics of questionable hygiene) throughout Oxfordshire and the villages where Marple and Midsomer and Morse turn up all those bodies. I stood in front of a 900-year-old ivy-covered cornerstone where education was taking place while, where I live today, indigenous people were living a prehistoric lifestyle. Just like the rest of us are now.

The other pilgrimage: Occurs every time I drive down to Half Price Books World Headquarters on NW Highway east of Central Expressway. Mask and sanitizer at the ready I visited as long ago as yesterday. More books and music, holy moly. First editions, hardback classics, old original pulps, coffee table books out the wazoo. Self-help, textbooks, sheet music, religion, philosophy mystery, classic fiction… to quote James Brown, “Good Gawd j’awl!”

The real pilgrimage: Every time I open a book it’s a pilgrimage. Of style, substance, structure. I’m a content person. Which brings me to the real meat here. What do we learn from pilgrimages? I won’t dwell on the awful stuff. Here’s the other part of the two-fer I mentioned, garnered from opening a book.


Pugnuckling: When the right word is the wrong word. What do you do? Well, pugnucklers, you make one up.

I busted on Faulkner’s earliest works, drenched in adverbs and repetitive descriptions. But by The Reivers he’d hit his stride and turned the voices of the South into a raucous, racy, whimsical, colorful, sweet as a Magnolia blossom cacophony.

From William Faulkner’s The Reivers.

“It ain’t fair that it’s just women can make money pugnuckling while all a man can do is just try to snatch onto a little of it while it’s passing by.”

How smooth was that? I drop F-bombs like Tarantino or Chili Palmer. However, in my latest excursion, I have characters who have agreed to substitute Madre de Dios for motherfucker when used as a ‘shakin’ my head’ or ‘what else can go wrong’ sentiment.

Bonus. I say we kick the responses to these prompts up a notch. Not that I object to all the subsequent to response marketing hype because I skip the boring parts. I say we respond and offer a chapter, a scene, of something of ours that represents the prompt. Like this week. Who has a pilgrimage out there? Every book has somebody, going someplace, to learn something. Even if it’s a junkyard or a hotel or a library or a graveyard or a dive bar full of aliens and informants. This blog hop is a perfect venue and what a great way to learn something specific from each other. Did you have trouble? Why did character X go there? Did it work? No shit really, I’d gladly read chunks of WIPs or books instead of skipping the “And then I wrote the book/series that made the whole world sing” stuff. Save that for the market. What’s the ever-popular catchphrase, show, don’t tell?

So, I’ll drop one, fear of exposing mediocrity in check. Here’s a link to a pilgrimage bit.


1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Published by

Phil Huston


18 thoughts on “NVDT #42 – Pilgrimages and Pugnuckling – Two-fer”

  1. Your Oxfordshire pilgrimage sounds wonderful, Phil. We live nearer to Cambridge and often go there, but one day I’m going to visit the City of Dreaming Spires. It’s a good idea of yours to add an excerpt to go with the post. Wish I’d thought of that!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I should probably talk to you about Cambridge sometime, considering I’ve never been and have a character who goes there to be somebody!
      Yes, we should elevate ourselves to the excerpts or links!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The hospital where I have my check-ups is in Cambridge. We also sometimes go to concerts in the Corn Exchange, or at King’s College. Very occasionally we have been shopping at the Grafton Centre, but it’s a nightmare to park.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Ain’t that the truth. And the coffee from Black Forest, you don’t know if they got their name from the barista’s armpits or not. Books, books books. Imagine. A whole building full of traded-in ideas!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favourite secondhand bookstore has reopened and we can make appointments to visit. I’ve been once and am booked to go again. My second favourite second bookstore went out of business. Sunday was their last trading day. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stores are dropping like flies all around. Third generation restaurants, musical instrument shops, book stores, all kinds of sole proprietor businesses, boutiques, all gone or dying. The big used bookstore, also stocked with new, discounted publisher over runs, is kind of low on stock but now we can make appointments to sell. I wonder how that works, if they fog the boxes of books when they’re dropped off or what. Anyway, sad state of affairs when the options dwindle to box stores and Amazon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We can also make appointments to sell. I have one for 2 July. They leave the purchases untouched for three days. That said, Canberra has had 1 case in the last month, and that was a non-Australian diplomat returning from overseas. He had gone into self-isolation on arrival, so had contact with very few people before being diagnosed.

        But my heart breaks for the businesses that have had to close in these hard times. Proud to say that I’ve never purchased from Amazon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, 2 July. That’s out a ways. I haven’t checked on the procedure here. Last fall I ended up with a sizeable gift card, went through Christmas and it still has $20 on it.

        Liked by 1 person

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