Here's a blend of Bret Harte, Stewart Edward White and Louis Dodge -- stark Americana, the picture of the shifting hordes of those who helped sow the seeds of modern Oregon in the 75 years between its opening and the coming of the railroads. The ragtag and bobtail crew of hop pickers, fruit gatherers, horse traders, harvesters, farm hands, itinerant traders, colonists moving to greener pastures, land sharks, optimists and pessimists -- a motley crew, vividly presented. The story centers around Clay Calvert, who seems always to escape the penalties of his offense. The stage props are all there; the skeletons of drama are boldly drawn; there is a certain vitality in the telling. But somehow the characters do not quite come to life and thereby it just misses being a big book. Watch it, however. It may take hold.