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Caissonsville, KS?
In Gene Wolfe
Jul 22, 2021
I am also enjoying the podcast and this particular topic moved me from lurker to poster. The story is often described as taking place in Kansas. Do we know where this belief started? I don’t feel like Wolfe was describing a town on the Great Plains when he wrote about Cassionsville. The geography he describes does not fit for me. I am not confident that Wolfe had a specific location in mind, but I agree that the Ohio river valley seems likely. Sedo already made a more compelling case than I can but let me add a few random thoughts (at the risk of running ahead of the podcast). In The Changeling, the narrator “moves out of Kansas” and has days of travel before he arrives in “Cassonsville.” He is clearly not in Kansas anymore. Lois’ comment on Quantrill is a clue, but Den’s response to Lois’ question may be telling. He is neutral. He spends a lot of time thinking about local history. Would he have a stronger reaction to Quantrill if his family were early settlers in eastern Kansas? Lois is from St. Louis. Pre-internet, it seems more likely that a small town in southern Illinois or Indiana would advertise in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch than the Kansas City Star. I think that Tennessee or Kentucky is unlikely, because Wolfe describes Cassionsville as clearly Midwestern and seems to draw line between the Midwest and places that are more distinctly Southern. But, let me add one note that is a bit of a stretch. If the anecdote about Wolfe working on machine design for Pringles is correct, then Wolfe probably spent time in Jackson, Tennessee. This is where P&G built their US plant to process potatoes into Pringles (the plant and brand now belong to Kellogg’s). So, when I picture Cassionsville, I picture a small Illinois river town that looks something like Peoria and something like Jackson (but probably smaller than both) and is south of the line that runs through central Illinois that separates Cubs fans from Cardinals fans. I’m hoping that you're saving discussion on the town name for the novel wrap up


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