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The Cadence of Grassby Thomas McGuane
Synopses & Reviews
In his first novel since his best-selling Nothing but Blue Skies, and thirty-three years after The Sporting Club established his reputation, Thomas McGuane?s trademark combination of high wit, low behavior, and hard-won wisdom has never been on sharper — or, ultimately, more moving — display. This is the story of the Whitelaws, a family whose values are as far-flung as the territory they helped settle, and whose most recent generations have pioneered the landscape of dysfunction.
The patriarch, Sunny Jim, exerts his perverse control even posthumously, by means of a last will and testament that binds the family fortune (a bottling franchise) to a marriage that ought, by general assent, to be rent asunder. The charms of this particular son-in-law, lately released from prison, are potent if short-lived; Evelyn Whitelaw, his estranged wife, is quite literally bedeviled by them. And as her mother and sister court this twisted inheritance, her own yearnings point toward a way of life once habitual on these western plains but now embodied only by Bill Champion, the family?s ranch foreman and Evelyn?s one true compass.
A novel charged with the relentless and often contradictory claims of blood, money, history, and love, The Cadence of Grass is at once a masterpiece of savage comedy and an elegy for what has been lost. Long one of our most compelling novelists, Thomas McGuane has written the most ambitious book of his singularly distinguished career.
"Novelist and essay-writer McGuane assembles a large cast for a small but satisfying story....These awfully stretched story lines wander perilously close to Florida baroque, but McGuane always knows when to back off....Exhilarating: like a good run in bad weather." Kirkus Reviews
"On the surface, McGuane's prose is all moral unflappability, but underneath there's clearly a nostalgia for a less self-indulgent culture, one in which people kept to their (preferably stoic) codes." Publishers Weekly
"Peopled with quirky, humorous, and sometimes downright dangerous characters, this novel is absorbing, meaningful, and brilliantly written." Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta, Library Journal
I enjoyed Thomas McGuane's The Cadence of Grass so little ? in fact, I disliked it so much ? that after finishing it, I immediately reread The Sporting Club, his first novel, to see what had gone wrong. Nothing. McGuane hasn't changed. His men are still vacant, voiceless boys; McGwomen are still a little less rough and a whole lot more needy; the prose is lean and clean, a telegraph from the land of that Big Sky Between the Ears....Lonesome Cowboy Tom can write. The problem isn't him, it's me. I need more nourishment, something to cheer for other than the wind and arrested development." Scott Raab, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
In a masterpiece of savage comedy, the author of the bestselling "Nothing But Blue Skies" writes of the perverse Whitelaw patriarch, a man who exerts his control, even in death, by means of a will that binds the family fortune to a failing marriage.
Sunny Jim Whitelaw, a descendent of pioneers and owner of a large bottling plant, may have died, but he has no intention of relinquishing control: his will specifies that no one gets a cent unless his daughterEvelyn reconciles with her estranged husband, Paul. But Evelyn is a strong-willed woman, fiercely attached to the land, whose horses transport her to a West she feels is disappearing, while Paul is a suave manipulator, without scruples, intent on living well.
As played out on the majestic stage of Montana cattle country, the ensuing drama involves blood, money, sex, vengeance, and a cross-dressing rancher.The Cadence of Grass is renewed evidence that McGuane is one of the finest writers we have, capable of simultaneously burnishing and demolishing the mythology of the West while doing rope tricks with theEnglish language.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The daughter of late Whitelaw patriarch Sunny Jim finds herself bound by his will to a marriage with a man she no longer loves, as she is drawn to a simpler life as exemplified by the Whitelaw's ranch manager, Bill Champion.
About the Author
Thomas McGuane is the author of several highly acclaimed novels, including The Sporting Club; The Bushwacked Piano, which won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Ninety-Two in the Shade, which was nominated for the National Book Award; Panama; Nobody's Angel; Something to be Desired; Keep the Change; and Nothing But Blue Skies. He has also written To Skin a Cat, a collection of short stories; An Outside Chance and Some Horses, collections of essays on sport and horsemanship, respectively; and The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing. His books have been published in ten languages. He was born in Michigan and educated at Michigan State University, earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Drama and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. An ardent conservationist, he is a director of American Rivers and of the Craighead Wildlife-Wildlands Institute. He lives with his family on a 10,000-acre ranch in Sweet Grass County, Montana.
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