Reading Kent Meyers’s The Work of Wolves reminded me of a time when I loved horses. To watch them gallop, to see them stoop and eat grass, to feel their breath as they’d nuzzle my hand for oats. To sense in them an innate sovereignty that people in our century seem sometimes to have abandoned.
Which is why this story of South Dakota’s iron landscape, compassion battling possessive hatred, and the plight of three horses, appeals so.
Stoic rancher’s son Carson Fielding takes a job he doesn’t want teaching an obsessively arrogant man’s wife to ride. Over the course of her training they fall into … » More …
In Prisoners of Flight, Sid Gustafson’s veterinarian protagonist refers often to angels: “We haven’t heard from our angels in a long time. But they’re out there . . . waiting somewhere in the sky.”
Two ex-military pilots, Gustafson’s protagonist and his comrade, Henson, crash their plane into wilderness alongside Montana’s Flathead River. Former Vietnam POWs, they have wrestled with life’s trials ever since, holding to a single constant: a fierce longing for an idealized sky. Says Gustafson’s protagonist: “The flying rule is: When in doubt, do nothing. But I’m not flying anymore.” For indeed, Gustafson’s characters are themselves fallen forms of the angels they seek.
Midway through Sid Gustafson’s new novel, Horses They Rode, I found myself put in mind of all the second chances I have had. His take on the reknitting of family, friendship, and one man’s tumultuous life is such a story—a tale of second chances where hope effervesces across a storyscape of high country, horse corrals, drunkenness, and regret that seems, at moments, irresolvable. It’s a wholly American novel, for of course, America is a land forgiving of first mistakes—where a shot at trying again is fair and right.
Wendel Ingraham, Gustafson’s protagonist, is a ranch hand who has roamed Washington State’s Inland Empire, Idaho’s panhandle, … » More …