EASY KEEPER by Mary Tannen


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 Literature ``lite'' from Tannen (Second Sight, 1988; After Roy, 1989), who writes stylishly about the angst of the superficially substantial in the kind of western setting easterners like to think authentic. Priest Creek, an old mountain town neither pretty nor glitzy, is a place to which people come from elsewhere ``because they have this fantasy about the West.'' There are recently widowed Lily, who rears sheep on her ranch and finds solace ``in the power of life and death and procreation''; Dusty, in love with Lily, is the dreamy, overly imaginative town-chronicler; and Dixie, who came from the South with her menagerie of pets because she wanted to live ``in a log cabin on a country road.'' In the year that follows the death of her drug-addicted husband, Lily falls in love with visiting Foster, a New Yorker, who thinks that Lily could be easy to love, an ``easy keeper'' (an animal that produces more feed for less feed). But Lily needs something more permanent; and though Foster comes back for occasional visits, he is too much the city boy, lacking ``the faith finally to buy into the dream'' and settle down with Lily and her down-to-earth friends. As the year passes, Dixie comes closer to attaining her dream; Dusty, who's been busy crafting a history for the town at the behest of its leading developer, saves Lily from death; and in a carefully orchestrated set-piece in which the visitors from out-of-town see an even more dramatic Old West than they had bargained for, Dusty wins Lily. Together now, ``they're living a dream in a small place high in the mountains where a person could begin again, restored at last to a harmony with nature.'' Much beautiful writing, but the characters have about as much authenticity as the local legends Dusty crafts to attract investors. Pleasant but not memorable.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-374-27363-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992