Sunday, June 1, 2014

Authentic Western

Book Review: Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks

"It begins and ends with horses, now and in history ... the horse alone has the power to transport us".

I was born and grew up in the Western United States. I have traveled from one side of this country to the other; I have seen some great places, but I cannot imagine living anyplace else. There is a flavor to the West that satisfies something inside me. I know that every part of the United States has its own personality, and that for different people, different places feel like 'home'.

When I read a story that is set in the West, I can quickly tell if the author has actually lived here. There is a different way of talking, a different way of looking at life that comes from long, empty spaces and sharp stark landscapes. I think you have to live it to describe it. There are a handful of writers who 'get it'; in Painted Horses Malcolm Brooks shows that he is one.

Painted Horses transports us to another decade, another way of thinking, yet not one that is really all that foreign to us. The battle between progress and historic preservation is still ongoing; we lose a little bit of our history every day. Brooks sets the scene, and begins to fill it with characters on both sides. With a playing field as big as the West, it can sometimes seem that the characters aren't even in the same game, but love of the land and its history ties it together.

Painted Horses has the marks of a mature and seasoned author, and the facets of the story are as varied as the colors of a Colorado sunset; when the glow finally fades and the stars come out, you can't wait to do it all over again.