These are the stories of a woman who took up flying on a whim one sunny morning in Arizona and years later climbed into her biplane to head out of Idaho toward a sunset blizzard. We laugh with her as she flies while folding a five-foot chart in a two-foot cockpit or sheds a flying helmet, uncovering sprigs of hair “…bent into abrupt angles like barbed wire gone awry.” We cringe at hangar mishaps, broken fences, peeling dope, and duct tape repairs. Mostly, though, we soak in the magic of flight from the cockpit of her biplane, watching a bunch of sticks and wires and cloth tie a person to life itself and to those who share it, living and dead: “Like many flyers, I feel connected to Lewis and Clark across time and space—they explored the surface in the early 1800’s, we fly above them in a flying machine a bit more sophisticated than an early 1900’s model, and in my cockpit sits a 2000-era device that speaks every moment to a satellite whisking along miles above. Beyond the satellite, an observer in 2100 will gaze back through a telescope on the moon’s Mount Marilyn to see the earth’s Judith Gap and ahead into deep space toward the next place to be named for a loved one.”
Sticks & Wires & Cloth is Anne Hopkins’s first book.