By William Kittredge
William Kittredge's dating to the spare, usually unforgiving Western panorama is fraught with contradictions. Having grown up on a farm animals ranch in Oregon, he has an intimate connection to the great panorama that used to be very important to his family's exchange. He has additionally witnessed, over many many years, the depletion of the West's traditional assets because of overuse. those luminous essays movement easily from the non-public to the political. With grace and integrity, Kittredge at once confronts the myths that lie on the middle of the Western event: male freedom and feminine domesticity, the wild and the tame, self-interest and the affection of the land. at the heels of Kittredge's first novel, The Willow box, released to extensive serious acclaim in 2006, we're happy to provide the simplest of his nonfiction writings.
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Extra info for The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays
The Hawaiians never came back. The river and territory inherited their name. This is the story of going back, in 1980, on the road seeking romance and Hawaiians in the desert. What I wanted was Nevada, and laissez-faire, hard-way sixes at four in the morning and then, if it should suit my fancy, a quiet drink on the terrace with myself and the sunrise, like a grown-up in the land where everybody gets to do what they want to do, anyway, part of the time. I was heading to visit the chuck-wagon buckaroo outfit run by the IL Ranch, on the edge of the Owyhee desert north ofTuscarora, Nevada.
While Josephine loved “arts”—she played the piano and sang light opera in local shows—she married into a ranch family that was rising into the ruling class in southeastern Oregon and came to believe that Dwight Eisenhower was the cat’s meow. “He’ll take care of people like us,” she would say. I argued with her, not my father, who was too formidable. In 1951, when I was at Oregon State College, majoring in agriculture, the topic, about which my mother and I held passionate opinions but knew little, was fairness—class relationships in America.
My fear collapsed, and I felt foolish as I understood this was a creature I had heard my father talk about, a courting sage-grouse, we called them prairie chickens. This was only a bird and not much interested in me at all. But for an instant it had been both phantom and real, the thing I deserved, come to punish me for my anger. For that childhood moment I believed the world to be absolutely inhabited by an otherness that was utterly demonic and natural, not of my own making. But soon as that bird was enclosed in a story that defined it as a commonplace prairie chicken, I was no longer frightened.