Monday, December 17

i like my fiction the same way i like my water -- with a little zing to it. (don't ask me why, i am constitutionally incapable of drinking water that doesn't have a squirt of lemon or lime juice in it. i have no idea. probably has its roots in some repressed childhood trauma involving, umm, water.) probably because of that, i can't think of any books to compare my latest read to.

The Last Cowgirl, by Jana Richman, is definitely what i would call Western Fiction. i'm not sure if that subgenre is legally recognized, but it should be. there's lots of it out there. and big names too, like Wallace Stegner and William Kittredge. at least, big names here in the wild west. these are books that sigh out dust and tumbleweeds when you open them, and are accompanied by the chorus of cicadas and the yipping of coyotes (pronounced KAY-oats). i suppose that some of Barbara Kingsolver's opus could qualify as well -- i'm thinking here of works like Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, and Pigs in Heaven.

but those three books are what i call (with great fondness and love) advanced chick lit. The Last Cowgirl, despite what you might think from the title, is anything but. i can't think of a single moment that would qualify as girlie. there are deep, emotional, loving, desperate, depressed, and insightful moments, but definitely no girlie.

that said, this is a good book. it's her first novel (i'm intensely curious now about Riding in the Shadows of Saints, which would fit into the Non-Fiction counterpart to Western Fiction) and, in my opinion, started out a little bit rough. but once it got rolling, i really did want to know how it would end.

Last Cowgirl has great moments, and some very even-handed thoughts about environmentalism, ranching, and the military's impact on both. instead of zing, it has solidity and weight. and dust, and cows, and nerve gas, jack Mormons, a funeral, an old flame, horses, evil gossipy highschool ex-bestfriends, and a very important zucchini plant.

in summation, city-slickers beware! this one will get you dirty.