Uit: Against the Day
“July Fourth started hot and grew hotter, early light on the peaks descending, occupying, the few clouds bright and shapely and unpromising of rain, nitro beginning to ooze out of dynamite sticks well before the sun had cleared the ridge. Among stockmen and rodeo riders, today was known as “Cowboy’s Christmas,” but to Webb Traverse it was more like Dynamite’s National Holiday, though you found many of the Catholic faith liked to argue that that ought to be the Fourth of December, feast of St Barbara, patron saint of artillerymen, gunsmiths, and by not that big of a stretch, dynamiters too.
Everybody today, drovers and barkeeps, office clerks and hardcases, gentle elderly folks and openmouth reckless youth, would be seized sooner or later by the dynamitic mania prevailing. They would take little fractions of a stick, attach cap and fuse, light them up and throw them at each other, drop it in reservoirs and have all-day fish fries, blast picturesque patterns in the landscape that’d be all but gone next day, put it lit into empty beer barrels to be rolled down mountainsides, and take bets on how close to town before it all blew to bits – a perfect day all round for some of that good Propaganda of the Deed stuff, which would just blend right in with all the other percussion.
Webb staggered up out of his bedroll after one of those nights when he did not so much sleep as become intermittently conscious of time. Already warm-up blasts could be heard up and down the valley. Today’s would be a fairly routine job, and Webb was looking forward to a little saloon time at the end of it. Zarzuela was out by the fence waiting, having known Webb long enough to have an idea that whatever the day held in store, it would include explosion, which the colt was used to and even looked forward to.”
Thomas Pynchon (Glen Cove, 8 mei 1937)