The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy -
In the boot heel of New Mexico hard on the frontier, Billy and Boyd Parham are just boys in the years before the second World War, but on the cusp of unimaginable events. First comes a trespassing Indian and the dream of wolves running wild amongst the cattle lately brought onto the plains by settlers, this when all the wisdom of trappers has disappeared along with the trappers themselves.
And so Billy set forth at the age of sixteen on an unwitting journey into the souls of boys and animals and men. Having trapped a she-wolf he would restore to the mountains of Mexico, he is long gone and returns to find everything he left behind transformed utterly in his absence. Except his kid brother Boyd, with whom he strikes out yet again to reclaim what is ours thus crossing into "That antique gaze from whence there could be no way back forever"
What they find instead, singly and together, is an extraordinary panoply of fiestas and circuses, dogs and horses and hawks, pilgrims and revolutionaries, grand haciendas, and forlorn cantinas, bandits and gypsies and roving tribes, a young girl alone on the road, a mystery in the mountain wilds, and a myth in the making. And in this wider world, they fight a war as rageful as the one neither, in the end, will join up for back home. One brother finds his destiny while the other arrives only at his fate.
An essential novel by any measure, a book that touches, stops, and starts the heart and mind at once.
And, Dog Days, Dispatches from Bedlam Farm, Jon Katz -
Jon Katz is one of America's best loved writers, about animals, a chronicler of rural life to rival James Harriot. Here the squire of Bedlam Farm allows us to live our dreams of leaving the city for the country, and shares the unpredictable adventure of farm life. From little Jesus, the new born donkey who becomes the farm mascot, to the surprisingly sociable steer, Elvis, and his enormous sweetheart, Luna, the creatures of Bedlam Farm find new ways to challenge Katz, who writes, "The perfect life is like the perfect dog. Neither exists. And joy is a fraction of the experience of owning a farm."
Riding herd on the entire place is Rose, the workaholic Border Collie. Not even Rupert, the ram, can intimidate her. As for Pearl and Clementine, the Labs, their work is chomping down food, tearing through the woods, and finding laps to snuggle in. The sheep, the chickens, and the cats all contribute to the hum (and occasional roar) of Bedlam - so do the vet, the carpenter, and the animals' tenderhearted nursemaid. Last but not least, there's Izzy, the abandoned Border Collie, who if all goes well, may soon become a Bedlam star.
In spite of the aches and pains brought on by his demanding life style and days when Bedlam Farm truly lives up to its name (like the day Elvis pulls the fence down) the author is sustained in all he does by his wife, Paula. And on timeless summer days and its punishing winter storms, he continues his meditation on what animals can selflessly teach us, and what we in turn owe them.
With good neighbors, a beautiful landscape, and tales of true love thrown in, Dog Days gives us not only marvelous down-to-earth animal stories but a rich portrait of the harmonious world that is Bedlam Farm.
And, Lone Star Cafe, Lisa Wingate -
Laura Draper is having the worst day of her life. Before she knows what is happening, her career as a magazine editor, her relationship with a well known photojournalist, and her sanity are all unraveling. She finds herself marooned at a crossroads in "nowhere "Texas wondering which way to turn when two very strange elderly ladies convince Laura to come inside their little cafe. Mernalene and Hasselene serve up their special coffee, homemade buttermilk pie, and one delectable home grown cowboy.
"In this part of the world, life moves with a quiet simplicity, and every town is centered around the local cafe." ---Lisa Wingate
See you at the Rylander!