Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review: The Light of Western Stars by Zane Grey

Those stories. . . the ones you've seemingly always known, the ones always there for you - The Light of Western Stars is one of those for me. It's not the only one of course, but it is at the heart of the list. After A Speckled Bird it was the first really and truly grown-up book I ever read, and the tingling bedazzlement of it has never left.

The tale starts with the greatest thunder-clap of any story I've read. The rest of the story rolls out in charming views and moments of cozy repose varied with nail-biting suspense ending in a conclusion of breath-taking height. In the words of the story: Life changed for her in that instant of realization and became sweet, full, strange; the entire ending, as delicately done as those words, leaves you on tip-toe to see what happens next, yet even as you wonder you surely know it will be altogether quite lovely.

The characters - I haven't truly talked of them have I? Except that in a way I think I have because they are the story. Stillwell - the crusty old cattleman toughened by a hundred desert storms. Al and Florence as sweet and refreshingly honest as a western couple should be. Each of the cowboys: Nils, Link, Monty Price, and Ambrose who, with his little French maid wife, together are simply adorableness itself. Most of all there are Madeline aka Majesty and Gene Stewart. Majesty, having traveled the world, meets Stewart the man holding all the rough pulse of the desert within him and discovers, to her shock, that she really knows nothing at all about life. Their relationship is just as thrilling as one might expect from such a beginning.

Re-reading is something I love and am always doing. Discovering a different angle on a view you think you know as well as your own hand which, come to think of it, I'm always noticing new things about, too. This time it was the so-to-speak interlude in the mountains. A little bit tiresome I remember thinking, and on my past visits I liberally skipped over it to the more heart-pounding parts. And guess what? The “interlude” I discovered is far more exciting than I first supposed, its very quietude being wherein its vivid life begins. From that wonder, caught in words without conversation, the rest of the story spills out in powerful beauty of free-flowing waters and the dreaminess unfurling still holds me fast.

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