American Literature

Because I’m a curious type, I asked.

Greatest Cowboy novel of all time?”

Stymied, tongue tied.

To further enhance the question and give it a wider audience, I’d ask for the top ten.

Shane. The Virginian.

Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead, a personal favorite with sweeping vistas and panoramic saga.

Rudolfo Anaya’s canon, and while not in the listing of his best work, I like the Zia Trilogy, myself. Albuquerque, Summer, Spring, Fall, and Winter, &c.

One academic I know, did her master’s degree on McMurtry, she sniffed at the series by Rudolfo Anaya. I liked it. It sold better than the critically acclaimed work by Anaya. I prefer romantic comedy with arching metaphysical vistas offset with the stark desert floor of the Western flank of the Sandia Range, one story was on the backside, but still, close enough. I much prefer that to “angry young man” work.

There’s one scene, and I can’t recall the location. I mean, I don’t know which book it’s in. The scene is either Native American or Chicano, as, in its day, I read much of the Chicano literature. I’ve forgotten most of it. But this one scene keeps sticking with me.

I was living in, and finishing a degree, Arizona, so I was surrounded by the splendor of the desert southwest. Red, red rock canyons. In seven years, I saw the desert bloom once, about right. Heavy spring rain, the desert floor lit up like a neon sign, flowers and green.

The scene, was either the Left Coast (Southern California) or some other part, more intrinsic to the American Southwest, but the scene was a young Indian-Chicano, and I can’t recall. Running. Finally free.

Might’ve been early work of some of the Chicano or “Native American” authors, and I’m sure it’s in a book that I still have.

So many books, so little time.

That one scene, I can’t recall any other details but as the denouement, it worked well enough to stick with me, long after many other details are lost to the sands of time.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rhubarb Jul 26, 2011 @ 15:53

    When I was in grade school, our teacher read to us a book called Tick Tock and Jim. It was my first exposure to western cowboy literature and I was quite taken by it. Haven’t been able to find it since. Then there was another, and the only specific I can remember is that the horse’s name was Smoky (no, not the bear, the horse). That novel was good, too, wish I could remember the title. So many books, so short a lifetime, so miniscule a memory buffer.

  • rhubarb Jul 26, 2011 @ 15:59

    Ah, now I’ve got it!l Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James. I loved that one, too.

  • Kramer Wetzel Jul 26, 2011 @ 17:05

    Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amor, thrice the size of his usual material and the same, yet, rendered in a different light. Highly recommended.

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