Mario Materassi taught American literature at the University of Florence, Italy, and is an editorial advisor for Journal of the Southwest.
1. When The Blessing Way was translated into Italian, doubts arose as to the appropriateness of this title for a mystery novel. I suggested Il canto del nemico (The Enemy Song). This is the title under which the novel was published. In inscribing the book, Tony wrote: “For Mario—who shares my conviction that this is the best title.” Incidentally, the French translation followed suit in its title.
6. “Probably,” according to Hillerman, “‘Chee's Witch.’” This story is included in The Tony Hillerman Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to His Life and Work, ed. Martin Greenberg (New York: HarperCollins, 1994).
8. In May 1992 I asked Hillerman how the story of the smuggler was coming. His answer was, “The smuggler has diminished in importance in the plot.” The character finally disappeared from the novel. Possibly, Hillerman resurrected it as Jason Delos in The Shape Shifter (2006). When I asked the writer, he said, “I don't remember whether I consciously did. But you may be right.”