CACTUS TRACKS AND COWBOYS PHILOSOPHY by Baxter Black

CACTUS TRACKS AND COWBOYS PHILOSOPHY

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Black (Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?, 1994), comic western versifier and former physician to equines, ruminants, and other large domestic animals, rechews his whimsical cud with short pieces originally emanating from the airwaves of NPR. In over 100 little essays, stories, poems, and songs (and a glossary of feedlot lingo), each read in just the time it takes to soft-boil an egg, ol' Bax' stretches his tales tall and spins his poems. The stories recall the likes of Josh Billings and Artemus Ward of yesteryear, and the galloping poetic rhythm hasn't been so securely ridden since the days of the late Robert W. Service. Black hog-ties his rhymes (e.g.: ""fish"" with ""leash,"" ""up front"" with ""elephant"") with a force emblematic of John Wayne. His stuff, as Baxter advises, ""should always be read aloud (or at least move yer lips)."" The dialect is ripe with ""figgered"" and ""knowed"" and sechlike. Enough final ""g""s are dropped to delight any English lord. But what need of syntax and grammar when the book, on the whole, is simply fun, educational for the tenderfoot and redolent for cow people? Some efforts, naturally, work better than others; someone might have introduced Black to the notion of culling. For the most part, though, the seemingly ragtag ramblings are cleverly constructed to tickle fans and bemuse those, not wise to the difference between cow patties and beef patties, who just like the idea of being a cowpoke. Cowboy Black throws the bull, the cow, the stallion, the mare, common barnyard critters, and even the kitchen sink into these pieces with assurance and, generally, to good effect. Just put on yer five-buckle overshoes, watch where you step, and join the fun.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown