Trent Eglin, "The Incredible Dog Act." Unpublished novel typescript, 314 pp., spiral bound, 8.5 x 11 in.
The Dead Archive receives donations every week, of every imaginable type: rare handbills and posters documenting the nooks and crannies of the Grateful Dead’s history, evocative and thoughtful letters detailing the Deadhead experience, as well as art, T-shirts, interviews, and more. From an archival perspective, the sheer dazzling variety and richness of these gifts is both a confirmation and a celebration of the mission of the Archive to document the Grateful Dead experience, and the community it still defines to this day.
The Archive’s commitment to curating these often unusual artifacts complements a broader, more conventional archival mandate: to collect and document the wider cultural arcs that infused and were in turn influenced by the Dead. That means ensuring that traditional archival voices and materials have a place as well, such as rare books and even author’s manuscripts.
One recent gift is Santa Cruz area novelist Trent Eglin’s “The Incredible Dog Act,” a 313-page typescript of an unpublished novel set in the tumult of the sixties in Southern California and the Bay Area. Although not focused on the Dead, they play a supporting role throughout, from dances at the Fillmore to lyric quotes that demonstrate the author’s deep understanding of the band, their oeuvre, and most importantly, the depth and complexity of their interconnections with the counterculture and the 1960s. Even the famed Skull and Roses poster serves as a critical background motif for one memorable scene.
We’re most grateful to Eglin for this delightful addition to the Archive. Fiction provides a way of documenting the vast and often subtle ways that the Dead phenomenon permeates our culture, and Eglin’s fine novel is an example of one of the ways that process unfolds. For more information about this wonderful gift, please see our blog.