Masterful detail of life on the Plains, in a third novel from Meyers.
The author’s The River Warren (1998) defied description, by genre or any other way, and this outing is much the same. It starts with a brilliant piece of horse-trading wit, mindful of Faulkner’s “Spotted Horses” in The Hamlet. Cocksure 14-year-old Carson Fielding visits rich rancher Magnus Yarborough to buy his first horse, and Magnus foresees a beautiful fleecing. The lad points to a roan, saying, “I don’t know if I seen a more worthless animal since I been born.” Is this true or not? The reader can’t tell—but it’s Magnus who gets fleeced. The uppity roan later kills Carson’s grandfather and when Carson tells Mom, she suggests calling an ambulance. “I didn’t say hurt, Mom. I said dead. He’s dead. He’s laying out there dead.” “You did. Yes. You did say dead . . . But how do you know?” “I know dead, Mom. I’ve seen dead.” “I suppose you have.” Faulknerian grim wit? Like Wild Bill, Meyers doesn’t let on what fun he has with Carson’s stony reasonableness. After graduation, Carson moves into his late grandfather’s old house and soon becomes a respected hand with horses, so much so that Magnus hires the unwilling Carson, now 26, to train three horses for him and teach his wife Rebecca how to ride. Carson and Rebecca, who’s a year or two older, grow closer and closer. She demands that they drive off onto far reaches of the ranch for their riding lessons. But then Meyers breaks the rules and what you expect to happen doesn’t happen.
Superb dialogue. And the same irony that emerges from the horse-trading emerges still more deeply from Carson in his climactic verbal face-off with Vaughn, as if about to fleece Vaughn of Rachel.