Saturday, May 17, 2008

Five best: books about the modern American West

Alexandra Fuller is the author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight and the recently published The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, a true story about a young man coming of age in the Wyoming oil fields.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books that "brilliantly evoke the modern American West." Number One on her list:
What You See in Clear Water
by Geoffrey O'Gara
Knopf, 2000

This timely work sheds light on the conflict over water rights in the American West, but it also describes the history of the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes who now live on the enormous and gorgeous Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and it explores their relations with white settlers and their descendants. Geoffrey O'Gara's writing, though informed by careful research, is rooted in the land. He writes of Indian Inspector James McLaughlin's trek to the Wind River Canyon a century ago: "On the long trip north, he rarely looked up at the tall skidding clouds, or down at the sudden draws that dropped through the floor of the plains. It was spring, but barely spring, and scalloped ridges of snow still snugged against the lee sides of the hills." It's all there in "What You See in Clear Water" -- a tragedy in the making but overlaid with such tender beauty that you can't tear your eyes away from the page.
Read about all five titles on Fuller's list.

--Marshal Zeringue