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The Willow Field

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The Willow Field Cover

ISBN13: 9781400040971
ISBN10: 1400040973
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Annie Dillard has called him "one of our finest writers." Jane Smiley has declared his voice "prophetic." Now, at long last — after two collections of stories, another two of essays, and the heralded memoir A Hole in the Sky — William Kittredge gives us his first novel: an epic that stretches over the twentieth century, from the settlers, cowboys, and gamblers who opened up this country to the landholders and politicians who ran it.

Rossie Benasco's horseback existence begins when he's fifteen and culminates in a thousand-mile drive of more than two hundred head of horses through the Rockies into Calgary, through Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, across virgin wilderness, failed homesteads, ghost towns, squatters' camps, and Indian settlements. It's a journey that leads him, ultimately, to Eliza Stevenson and a love so powerful that his vocational aimlessness is focused only by his desire to spend his life with her: whether on her family ranch in the Bitterroot, which will prove their best refuge from a century fraught with war and civil strife, or on sojourns in Hawaii and Guam during World War II, or in the horse-trading business in California, or on the campaign trail throughout Montana.

A novel rich with landscapes and characters, The Willow Field chronicles a way of life nearly extinct at the novel's beginning and surviving only in memory upon its close at century's end. And as these people pivot between the ghosts of the old frontier and the modern world that engulfs them — from the uprooted lives of the Blackfeet tribes left listless and betrayed to the ravages of war, McCarthyism, urban riots, and insidious land development — the perennial imperatives of ambition, responsibility, and love prove as vital as ever, revealed as they are with the conviction, humor, and humanity for which Kittredge has long been acclaimed.

Review:

"Memoirist and story writer Kittredge's first novel (after The Nature of Generosity and Hole in the Sky) tells the life story of Rossie Benasco, the ornery son of a Reno, Nev., casino pit boss who, at age 15 in the early 1930s, takes work as a 'wrango boy' at a Nevada ranch owned by retired rodeo legend Slivers Flynn. Rossie's intimate relationship with Slivers's daughter causes Slivers to give Rossie a choice: run a couple hundred horses to Calgary or stay and 'have a mess of redheaded kids.' Rossie chooses the thousand-mile trek and, at trail's end, falls for Eliza Stevenson, the beautiful and pregnant (the father "went batshit" and is in prison for assault) daughter of a Scottish businessman. Eliza's father deeds the family's Montana farm to Rossie to nudge him into marrying Eliza, and the couple seal their relationship with the birth of a son and a wedding. Kittredge moves Rossie along with a compelling confidence: Rossie learns to run a farm, watches his son mature and adopts an orphaned girl before joining the Marine Corps in December 1941; he is shot by a fellow soldier and spends most of his tour working as a supply clerk. Years later, his children grown, Rossie gets involved in local and state politics, which proves to be as perilous as the Pacific theater. Kittredge balances earthy dialogue with lyrical prose to create a memorable evocation of the American west. (Oct. 6)" Publishers Weekly Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review:

"Memoirist and story writer Kittredge's first novel (after The Nature of Generosity and Hole in the Sky) tells the life story of Rossie Benasco, the ornery son of a Reno, Nev., casino pit boss who, at age 15 in the early 1930s, takes work as a 'wrango boy' at a Nevada ranch owned by retired rodeo legend Slivers Flynn. Rossie's intimate relationship with Slivers's daughter causes Slivers to give Rossie a choice: run a couple hundred horses to Calgary or stay and 'have a mess of redheaded kids.' Rossie chooses the thousand-mile trek and, at trail's end, falls for Eliza Stevenson, the beautiful and pregnant (the father 'went batshit' and is in prison for assault) daughter of a Scottish businessman. Eliza's father deeds the family's Montana farm to Rossie to nudge him into marrying Eliza, and the couple seal their relationship with the birth of a son and a wedding. Kittredge moves Rossie along with a compelling confidence: Rossie learns to run a farm, watches his son mature and adopts an orphaned girl before joining the Marine Corps in December 1941; he is shot by a fellow soldier and spends most of his tour working as a supply clerk. Years later, his children grown, Rossie gets involved in local and state politics, which proves to be as perilous as the Pacific theater. Kittredge balances earthy dialogue with lyrical prose to create a memorable evocation of the American west." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The opening chapters of William Kittredge's new Western are so seductive you'll want to strap on spurs and light out for the territory. 'The Willow Field' spans most of the 20th century and describes a way of life that hung on for decades after the rest of the country slipped into the effete and poisonous modern age. But the most surprising thing about Kittredge's novel is that it's his first. After... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"As much as this powerful novel is infatuated with the American West — its grave succession that ends in modernity, its land and animals as viewed by humans, its conflicts and trials, its quiet — it is also a novel in love with language itself, as stargazers are in love with light. Kittredge's novel is ample and satisfying and luminous. It's surely the book he was most meant to write." Richard Ford

Review:

"Love, sorrow, frustration...it's all here. Kittredge uses strong, earthy language to tell the story...laying his meanings between the lines like a modern Ernest Hemingway..." Library Journal

Review:

"Luminous....An exploration of the magnetic fields that draw people together and push them apart....Kittredge knows that deal, and he gets it exactly right." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"The Willow Field is a big, wild-hearted American saga. An instant classic." Gretel Ehrlich

Review:

"The Willow Field is the shit. Historically and geographically sweeping; soaringly lyrical yet so tuned to the terse wisdom of its horseman hero it sends chills all the way down to your saddle and into and on out the horse. William Kittredge is the bard laureate of the American West, and this novel will be bringing people joy thousands of days from today." David James Duncan

Review:

"The Willow Field is a Western in the richest sense of that word. There is a taproot here, and something elemental about the American West comes pushing through the prose itself. I read it as a love song too, part lament, part passionate embrace, by a writer obsessed with a complex terrain he knows from the bottom up, from the inside out. I salute Bill Kittredge for what he has given us in this abundant and heartful book." James D. Houston

About the Author

William Kittredge is the author, most recently, of The Nature of Generosity, and with Annick Smith he edited The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology. He grew up in Oregon and now lives in Missoula, where for many years he taught at the University of Montana.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Carl, November 2, 2006 (view all comments by Carl)
William Kittredge's writing captures the West for all its glory and tragedy. His sense of storytelling speaks to what writing is all about, and his words evoke poetry in motion. This story is of a boy who becomes a man while traveling in a landscape of memory. Kittredge is a masterful storyteller who should be read and cherished by all who value literature.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400040971
Author:
Kittredge, William
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Publication Date:
20060926
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.50x6.68x1.36 in. 1.55 lbs.

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The Willow Field Used Hardcover
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Product details 352 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9781400040971 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Memoirist and story writer Kittredge's first novel (after The Nature of Generosity and Hole in the Sky) tells the life story of Rossie Benasco, the ornery son of a Reno, Nev., casino pit boss who, at age 15 in the early 1930s, takes work as a 'wrango boy' at a Nevada ranch owned by retired rodeo legend Slivers Flynn. Rossie's intimate relationship with Slivers's daughter causes Slivers to give Rossie a choice: run a couple hundred horses to Calgary or stay and 'have a mess of redheaded kids.' Rossie chooses the thousand-mile trek and, at trail's end, falls for Eliza Stevenson, the beautiful and pregnant (the father "went batshit" and is in prison for assault) daughter of a Scottish businessman. Eliza's father deeds the family's Montana farm to Rossie to nudge him into marrying Eliza, and the couple seal their relationship with the birth of a son and a wedding. Kittredge moves Rossie along with a compelling confidence: Rossie learns to run a farm, watches his son mature and adopts an orphaned girl before joining the Marine Corps in December 1941; he is shot by a fellow soldier and spends most of his tour working as a supply clerk. Years later, his children grown, Rossie gets involved in local and state politics, which proves to be as perilous as the Pacific theater. Kittredge balances earthy dialogue with lyrical prose to create a memorable evocation of the American west. (Oct. 6)" Publishers Weekly Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Memoirist and story writer Kittredge's first novel (after The Nature of Generosity and Hole in the Sky) tells the life story of Rossie Benasco, the ornery son of a Reno, Nev., casino pit boss who, at age 15 in the early 1930s, takes work as a 'wrango boy' at a Nevada ranch owned by retired rodeo legend Slivers Flynn. Rossie's intimate relationship with Slivers's daughter causes Slivers to give Rossie a choice: run a couple hundred horses to Calgary or stay and 'have a mess of redheaded kids.' Rossie chooses the thousand-mile trek and, at trail's end, falls for Eliza Stevenson, the beautiful and pregnant (the father 'went batshit' and is in prison for assault) daughter of a Scottish businessman. Eliza's father deeds the family's Montana farm to Rossie to nudge him into marrying Eliza, and the couple seal their relationship with the birth of a son and a wedding. Kittredge moves Rossie along with a compelling confidence: Rossie learns to run a farm, watches his son mature and adopts an orphaned girl before joining the Marine Corps in December 1941; he is shot by a fellow soldier and spends most of his tour working as a supply clerk. Years later, his children grown, Rossie gets involved in local and state politics, which proves to be as perilous as the Pacific theater. Kittredge balances earthy dialogue with lyrical prose to create a memorable evocation of the American west." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "As much as this powerful novel is infatuated with the American West — its grave succession that ends in modernity, its land and animals as viewed by humans, its conflicts and trials, its quiet — it is also a novel in love with language itself, as stargazers are in love with light. Kittredge's novel is ample and satisfying and luminous. It's surely the book he was most meant to write."
"Review" by , "Love, sorrow, frustration...it's all here. Kittredge uses strong, earthy language to tell the story...laying his meanings between the lines like a modern Ernest Hemingway..."
"Review" by , "Luminous....An exploration of the magnetic fields that draw people together and push them apart....Kittredge knows that deal, and he gets it exactly right."
"Review" by , "The Willow Field is a big, wild-hearted American saga. An instant classic."
"Review" by , "The Willow Field is the shit. Historically and geographically sweeping; soaringly lyrical yet so tuned to the terse wisdom of its horseman hero it sends chills all the way down to your saddle and into and on out the horse. William Kittredge is the bard laureate of the American West, and this novel will be bringing people joy thousands of days from today."
"Review" by , "The Willow Field is a Western in the richest sense of that word. There is a taproot here, and something elemental about the American West comes pushing through the prose itself. I read it as a love song too, part lament, part passionate embrace, by a writer obsessed with a complex terrain he knows from the bottom up, from the inside out. I salute Bill Kittredge for what he has given us in this abundant and heartful book."
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