"There was a lonely place where the trail ran up to the sky, turning sharply away at the rimrock where a man could see all the valley below, a splendi"There was a lonely place where the trail ran up to the sky, turning sharply away at the rimrock where a man could see all the valley below, a splendid green of forest and meadow fading into the purple of the farther mountains. It was a place where a man could look down upon eagles, soaring far below, yet thousands of feet above the valley's floor. Here at sundown a man came riding."
"Most folks set their sights too high. They demand too much of life. How many meals can you eat? How many horses can you ride? How many roofs do you have to sleep under?"...more
"While the men of this wagon train were a chosen group, they were of a part with all those who migrated west. The UnitedRougher than some of his work.
"While the men of this wagon train were a chosen group, they were of a part with all those who migrated west. The United States had been settled to a great degree by the economic failures of Europe, albeit the ones with courage enough to attempt a change. The wealthy and satisfied do not migrate, they stagnate."...more
A modern western that shines a light at what exactly that means now. The main tension, as ever, lies in the changing nature of the landscape. There'sA modern western that shines a light at what exactly that means now. The main tension, as ever, lies in the changing nature of the landscape. There's a new type of settler - the 40 acre ranchette owner - at odds with the stewardship and recent history of the land. Only there's no simple blame, them being as much duped into their situation by developers and the larger American dream.
The novel setup mainly follows the horseback trek of Mike Arans after the mostly accidental killing of developer Snipes. Keeping the flashbacks of three different people straight with the narrative took some doing so I wasn't really hooked until the middle of the novel. But the memories add up and allow for the later actions and motivations of the characters to seem inevitable, like the seasons.
Underlying it all it seemed like there was a frustration with this inevitability that manifested in a brief vignette meeting were the differing viewpoints were all in the same room. Reminded me of my old job - ranchers and environmentalists - and what an impasse occurs when neither is willing to budge. Or to speak in ways that the other understands.
I liked this observation, "Generally speaking, one finds more wildlife diversity on a large, well-managed ranch than one finds in a national park. The dominant species in a national park, as in a zoo, is people." Quite true.
'Course there was tons of beautiful descriptions of the land, one of my main reasons for reading westerns, to get sucked into the nature and beauty of a place and living in a rhythm with that. "Holding the six-pack on his pommel, Mike pushed the mare into a lope-the first time in days he'd been out of a walk-down into the huge palm of the Great Divide Basin that was all pale red and blue and green and yellow. It was like riding into a tangible sky. He joyed in the young horse's power. He felt invincible as he loped her over the soft million-year-old seabed."
I'd love to meet Oscar. "Knowing that superhuman levels of compassion, courage, endurance, and morality were possible served to raise people's behavior to a higher standard. Imagine what people would be like without stories to guide them." Imagine indeed....more