The author of Bury the Dead (1987) crafts an authentic tale of a feisty young survivor in the Old West.
Ben and his older brother Bo Curtis are both in their teens when their Ma turns ""sikly"" and dies on their tiny scrub-land ranch in Texas. An old debt forces the boys off the land and onto the trail, driving a thousand steers to Abilene, Kansas, where Bo is shot in a gambling feud. Ben yearns for revenge, but he's handier at storekeeping than at tracking killers. He starts to accrue a fortune; then his investments--stocks, land-holdings--turn to dust. By the end, he has learned to skin buffalo, faced his brother's killer, and discovered that his hardened beliefs regarding Indians and blacks have no meaning in the teeming, cruel new land. Ben's glib narration (in dialect) follows his odyssey through never-romanticized landscapes of the Great Plains.
Vivid and original, Carter's hefty tale insistently upends the myths of a young country without diluting its epochal images of the not-so-distant past.