People really dont know that hogs are second only to higher primates in terms of intelligence and were the first animals taught to do circus tricks.
William B. Hedgepeth 63C
When hog lovers refer to me on the Internet as the Hog Messiah, I realize Ill always be identified with these animals, but thats a burden Ill happily live with.
William B. Hedgepeth 63C
William B. Hedgepeth 63C rejoices in the rerelease
By Greg Fulton
THE HOG BOOK, a scholarly, fanciful, and sometimes lyrical paean to pigs by William B. Hedgepeth 63C recently returned to bookshelves after seventeen years out of print.
Praised in the Congressional Recordin 1978, excerpted in the Utne Readerin 1998 (and in Emory Magazinein 1991), The Hog Bookhas nuzzled its way between Charlottes Weband Babein the pantheon of pork.
The New York Timescalled the work a fey and remarkably informative tribute when it was originally published by Doubleday in 1978. By 1981, sales of the book had surpassed one hundred thousand.
The 288-page book covers everything from the genealogy and language of the species to its inclusion in Greek and Jewish mythology; its role in history, art, and show business; and the growing scientific use of hog organs in human transplantation. The text runs the gamut from vivid slaughterhouse detail to the poetry of W. B. Yeats and hog haiku.
People really dont know that hogs are second only to higher primates in terms of intellience and were the first animals taught to do circus tricks, says Hedgepeth. Theyre very protective, . . . and their sense of smell is keener than dogs. If people came to see pigs in terms of their potential, theyd never return to seeing them as fat, stupid, and uglyall the demeaning prejudices that allow us to eat them.
Hedgepeths writing career began while majoring in humanities at Emory and editing the student-run Phoenixfrom 1961 to 1963, when the quarterly publication became known for its constant parodies of Emory administrators and faculty.
A few days before graduation, Hedgepeth was involved in a near-fatal car accident. He was comatose for several weeks and lost sight in his left eye, which is now covered with an eye patch. (You know, Ive found that no matter where you go around the entire world, children always know what a pirate is, he says.)
After he recovered, Hedgepeth began writing for the Atlanta Journal,then became a speechwriter for Georgia Governor Carl Sanders. In 1966, he managed the successful Congressional campaign of W. S. Bill Stuckey from Georgias eighth district. It was during that campaign that Hedgepeth met his first pig.
We were out on [Stuckeys] farm doing some campaign photos, and some hogs started charging me, and I jumped up on the fence and started snapping pictures of them, he says. A couple of years later in Tennessee, having been awakened to hogs, Id take pictures along the road, and theyd start arranging themselves and posing. I became aware of their intelligence, so I called my publisher and said I wanted to do a book about hogs.
Hedgepeth joined Lookin 1967, first as an assistant editor in New York, then as senior editor and Southeastern bureau chief in Atlanta, where he penned hard-hitting stories on the social conditions of the late sixties and the not-yet-New South. Articles on Native Americans, Appalachian poverty, and Southern politics earned him an array of national journalism awards, which in turn led to assignments ranging from coverage of the brutal war in Biafra to a profile of President Lyndon B. Johnsons dog Yuki. A 1967 story on starvation in Mississippi was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. A West Coast trip that same year for an article titled Inside the Hippie Revolution became the basis for his first book, The Alternative: Communal Life in New America,published in 1970 by MacMillan.
Lookfolded in 1971, and Hedgepeth went to work for Life,which closed its doors a year later. During stints at a number of other magazines, including Intellectual Digest, True,and New Times,Hedgepeth continued to work on The Hog Book,which was published in 1978.
In 1979, he moved to Hollywood as a contract writer for Universal Studios. I was a writer for various film projects and the television sitcom Semi-Tough[from the book of the same title] and other less well-remembered hallmarks of American culture. I worked with Alex Haley on a TV series called Palmerstown, USA.
Neither series enjoyed a long run, and Hedgepeth returned to his native Atlanta in 1986 to pursue freelance journalism, a novel, and several non-fiction projects. In 1994, he traveled to South Africa for the Discovery Channels Destination Discoverymagazine to report on the political goals of the Zulu nation following the end of apartheid.
Right now, Im working on a novel about my niche generation, called Warbabies. Im also embroiled in a book called Freak Accidents and Bizarre Fatalities, as well as a self-help book called The Lazy Guys Guide to Metaphysical Fitness. Beyond that, Im working on an illustrated book called Grimmer Fairy Tales with my classmate John Findley 63C, who illustrated The Hog Book. There is also a TV project afoot.
Despite everything he has published to date or may accomplish in the future, Hedgepeth knows hell always be linked to sausage. There are an awful lot of people out there whose eyes have been opened to the porcine potential, he says. When hog lovers refer to me on the Internet as the Hog Messiah, I realize Ill always be identified with these animals, but thats a burden Ill happily live with. No matter whatever else I may do, I will always be proud of being an Animalarian.