HORIZON by Lee Head
Kirkus Star

HORIZON

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bouncing back and forth through the decades from the Civil War to the present, this Western family-dynasty yarn has sweaty treks, shooting dust-ups, smoking feuds, Wild West shows, and a fiery clan whose lineages need a crowbar to get unglued; what's more, it pounds along with a whoop and a holler and nary a dull page. It all begins like an old Cary Grant farce--as Charles ""Trip"" Clayburn, mild-mannered accountant at modern-day N.Y.'s Bloomingdale's, arrives at the huge, run-down Oklahoma ranch of some mysterious Clayburn relatives. Among the residents: handsome matriarch Saba, who still expects an Indian attack (she'll wing Trip when he tries to leave); genuinely innocent virgin Remony; a gorillalike recluse who walks at night, wearing a mask made of bear intestine; and a Gabby Hayes handyman. Furthermore, Trip soon learns that there's a working calliope in the barn, not to mention no phones (the lines were cut back in '37). And in no time the ranch women, disposing of Trip's Bloomie's duds, get him into string tie, vest, Stetson, and spurs: Trip sort of likes the clothes, but he's a little confused when Saba starts advertising him as the last male Clayburn--a gunfighter! What's going on? Well, Saba then starts filling Trip in on the Clayburn family history, and suddenly we're back just after the Civil War with ""Double E"" Clayburn and wife Marianne--who leave their confiscated Kentucky plantation, trek miles and miles west, round up longhorns and mustangs, gather up a tribe of dispossessed Pahogas, and settle down in Oklahoma territory, determined to ""keep the government out."" (Double E knows all about the government power he calls ""Emmett Domain."") There are second-generation Clayburns to come: Zebulon, Eddie Blake (who'll die in a shootout), Crill, and lovely half-breed Terracita. There's a feud with the hated Castlers. (In a flash-forward back to the present, Saba blames a Castler descendant for the Indian Rights Movement claims on the ever-shrinking Clayburn land.) In the 1920s, Zeb and Crill go for broke, using the ranch for a Wild West show and early movie oaters. (Saba, then young, has a crush on Tom Mix.) And as the decades roll by, Trip learns of his bloodties to Saba and assorted, secret kin: there are strange marriages, bizarre deaths, and a blazing ending . . . plus a few surprises from the mouths of some elderly, tell-all Indians. Like the Clayburn calliope, Heads's dynasty machine rattles and steams up a storm--with great western/family-saga fun that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam