Douglas Day stands in the middle of a lush green field holding a bow and arrow. Parked incongruously in front of him is a gleaming silver Lincoln Continental. In his cable-knit sweater, Day doesn't look much like a hunter. And he looks more like he happened upon the car than he drove it there. It's hard to imagine the bloody carcass of a deer stretched across the big hood.
Day, who's 46, says he's better known for that Lincoln ad, for which he posed in 1973 - he calls it a "damn fool shot" - than anything he's written. The ad appeared in magazines and on billboards.
He's not afraid of fame, he says when asked, although it's never been a problem." If fame did come, he doesn't think it would affect his writing. "Writing is so private," he says, "nobody is going to bother me." He's not a private person, though. "Very few ex-Marines are introverts."
He mentions that there'd been little press coverage of his Rosenthal Award, and points out that the cash value of the award - $3,000 - is greater than that for the Pulitzer or the NBA, both of which have been getting a lot of ink around Charlottesville. He doesn't seem envious of McPherson or Settle - he speaks warmly of them - but he brings it up.
He says one of the benefits of receiving his own NBA was, "You get to know people in the (publishing) trade in New York." It helps you get book contracts, he says. Of which he currently has four: for biographies of Faulkner and Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, for another novel about Spain (the setting for "Journey of the Wolf") and for a book of essays and photographs about Andalusia.
Spain is his second home, where he goes when he's not teaching at the University of Virginia. He calls it his "alter-ego land," because it's so different from Charlottesville. He's drawn there because it's "harsh, implacable, no-nonsense." It's where he writes, and, as he says, "It seems to be the only thing I can write about."
"Journey of the Wolf" is about an Andalusian named Sebastian Rosales who has been in exile from Spain since the end of the Civil War, in which he fought on the republican side. He was nicknamed "El Lobo" because of the coolness and viciousness with which he fought. In 1973, he decides to go back to Andalusia. As he walks and hitchhikes home, he remembers the war and gets to know the new Spain, of which he sees little he likes.Only the land and some of the people make Spain worth returning to.
Friends tell Day that they see a lot of him in Sebastian Rosales, which surprises Day, although he says he admires many of Rosales is as implacable and intractable as the Spanish landscape. Day shares Rosales' special fondness for Andalusia because of its "gracia," its liveliness, its beauty.
He's the only Virginian among the Charlottesville writer and he says Charlottesville is a pleasant place to live and teach. He got his BA, MA and PhD at U.Va. and the only other place he's taught is Washington and Lee, just across the mountains from Charlottesville.
Day agrees to have his picture taken. The camera is borrowed and imposing, but Day says he's an expert photographer and offers to help set it up. He sights through the big lens across The Lawn at the University of Virginia toward Jefferson's Rotunda. He makes some adjustments, hands over the camera and stands with great patience in a light mist. He's a good-looking, bearded, red-faced man dressed in a tailored denim suit. His eyes are about the same blue as the denim. Students are passing by. He poses with a professionalism he must have learned from the Lincoln admen.