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Gallatin Canyon: Storiesby Thomas McGuane
Synopses & Reviews
John Briggs sat on his porch on a dreary hot August day with a glass of ice water sweating in his hand, listening to opera on the radio. The white borders of the screen doors were incandescent with mountain summer. Through them he could see the high windswept ridge above his house, where the bunchgrass could not get a hold, leaving only a seam of shale to overlook the irrigated valley.
Earlier, at the farmers' market at the fairgrounds, he'd strolled among the pleasant displays of food and craft. A bearded youth offered handmade walking sticks; next to him, with a cage full of rabbits, a woman in Chiapas folk costume sold angora tooth-fairy pillows while tugging strands of angora from a rabbit asleep in her lap. An extraordinary variety of concrete yard animals surrounded a display of bird feeders with expired Montana license plates folded for roofs. A hearty woman with her fists on her hips offered English delphiniums, which, she explained again and again, had never been crossed with Pacific Giants, "not ever." The Hutterites, in suspenders and straw cowboy hats, had a vast array of vegetables; their long table faced lines of people, five deep, eyes fixed upon the produce. A girl in jeans and a bustier played a harp, almost inaudible over the sounds of the crowd, beside a table selling geodes and specimens of quartz.
Briggs had a large shopping bag into which he placed his purchases: carrots, kohlrabi, baby beets bought from a woman in a Humane Society T-shirt, and Flathead Lake cherries from an old man in an "Official Party Shirt" from Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel. A woman with the forearms of a plumber spotted Briggs and stepped from behind a meager display of home-grown lavender to block his path. She gazed at him fixedly and, as he grew uncomfortable, asked, "Is anything coming to you?"
Briggs shook his head tentatively. The woman let out a vehement laugh with a faint whistle in it. A mirthless grin spread ear to ear.
"Is it possible," she asked, "that you don't remember me at all? Two a.m.? January? Roswell, New Mexico? Ring a bell?"
Trying to conceal his discomfort, Briggs said that he was afraid it was possible he didn't remember.
"You glutton " she roared.
He could see that the onlookers were not on his side. The woman followed him for several yards, a steady, accusing stare as he made his way through lanes of boxed produce. He heard the word glutton again, over the otherwise gentle murmur of the market. He also heard her ask the crowd whether people like him ever got enough. She was right; it was outrageous that such a thing could have slipped his mind, whatever it was. He was dismayed to have shared some potent event with this woman and be now unable to even recall it. He tried again, but nothing came. Perhaps it had been long ago-but no, she'd said January. Was he losing his memory?
He stopped to look at the midsummer light bouncing off the hoods of cars lined up alongside the park. Someone touched his elbow, and he turned to a young woman with a blue bandanna tied around her neck. She had on one arm a basket filled with parsnips, heavy August tomatoes, onions shedding golden paper in the hard light. "Don't blame yourself," she said shyly. "She's
A superb collection of stories his first in twenty years from one of our most acclaimed literary figures, whom The New York Times Book Review has called a writer of the first magnitude.
Place exerts the power of destiny in these ten stories of lives uncannily recognizable and unforgettably strange: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an Irish clan in Massachusetts gather at the bedside of their dying matriarch; a battered survivor of the glory days of Key West washes up on other shores. Several of the stories unfold in Big Sky country, McGuane's signature landscape: a father tries to buy his adult son out of virginity; a convict turned cowhand finds refuge at a ranch in ruination; a couple makes a fateful drive through the perilous gorge of the
A superb collection of stories—his first in twenty years—from one of our most acclaimed literary figures, whom The New York Times Book Review has called “a writer of the first magnitude.”
Place exerts the power of destiny in these ten stories of lives uncannily recognizable and unforgettably strange: a boy makes a surprising discovery skating at night on Lake Michigan; an Irish clan in Massachusetts gather at the bedside of their dying matriarch; a battered survivor of the glory days of Key West washes up on other shores. Several of the stories unfold in Big Sky country, McGuane’s signature landscape: a father tries to buy his adult son out of virginity; a convict turned cowhand finds refuge at a ranch in ruination; a couple makes a fateful drive through the perilous gorge of the title story before parting ways. McGuane’s people are seekers, beguiled by the land’s beauty and myth, compelled by the fantasy of what a locale can offer, forced to reconcile dream and truth.
The stories of Gallatin Canyon are alternately comical, dark, and poignant. Rich in the wit, compassion, and matchless language for which McGuane is celebrated, they are the work of a master.
About the Author
Thomas McGuane lives on a ranch in McLeod, Montana. He is the author of nine novels, three works of nonfiction, and one previous collection of stories.
Table of Contents
Vicious circle — Cowboy — Ice — Old friends — North coast — The zombie — Miracle boy — Aliens — The refugee — Gallatin Canyon.
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