Way Out West

12 Aug

Those readers who still retain a faculty that may soon become a vestigial talent namely a sharp memory will recall I recently doted upon a small gathering of this year’s novels,two of which were set in America’s 19th century West. Such is my fondness of that era that in rooting around for more stories set there I naturally came across John Williams amazing and spellbinding Butcher’s Crossing (New York Review Books).

Among many, this passage is quotable (shades of Philip Roth and Joseph Brodsky:

“Young people,” McDonald said contemptuously. “You always think there is something to find out.”

“Yes,sir,” Andrews said.

“Well, there’s nothing,” McDonald said.”You get born,and you nurse on lies,and you get weaned on lies, and you learn fancier lies in school. You live all you life on lies and then maybe when you’re ready to die, it comes to you—there’s nothing, nothing but yourself and what you could have done. Only you ain’t done it, because the lies told you there was something else. Then you know you could have had the world, because you are the only one that knows the secret, only then it’s too late. You’re too old.”

Uh, huh

Currently Reading: The Family Fang -Kevin Wilson (Ecco), Warlock– Oakley Hall (NYRB)

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