Ê Read å Butcher's Crossing by John Williams ï A cold wind blew across the prairie when the last buffalo fell a death wind for my people Sitting BullThey came down into valley, and the buffalo herds were moving darkly over the land like waves on the ocean The men slowly moved in on them The first shot went to kill the leader of the herd, shots would follow My mind stopped The buffalo just stood there in wonder of what was going on, and one by one they were killed.
The bright flare of a match, the creaking of saddle leather, and the mournful lowing of the oxen The smell of scorched coffee permeates the air, joining the stink of buffalo hunters too long on the trail Later, the confusion of the herd is rampant amidst the air made hazy and heavy by gun smoke The force of nature takes its toll, as it always will The horror of the elements, and the sheer beauty.
I searched for this book based solely on the fact that the author is the man who penned Stoner Ended up finding a copy at an out of state library, courtesy of Mobius After reading, I had to stifle a snort at the tag on the spine of the book It sports a label categorizing it as a Western and topped with a picture of a cowboy hat This novel is so much The author is a veritable virtuoso with his deceptively simple writing.
Kansas, Nuori Will Andrews J Tt Yliopiston Kesken Ja Saapuu Pieneen Butcher S Crossingin Kaupunkiin Keskelle Ei Mit N H N Haluaa Kokea Ralph Waldo Emersonin Innoittamana Alkuper Isen Suhteen Luontoon, Mutta Keskil Nnen Kovapintaisten Miesten Kansoittama Onnenonkijoiden Kaupunki Vaikuttaa Tylylt Andrews Tutustuu Pian Mieheen, Joka Saa H Net Vakuuttuneeksi Coloradon Vuoristossa Majailevasta Valtavasta Biisonilaumasta, Jota Kukaan Ei Ole L Yt NytNelj N Miehen Uhkarohkea Retkikunta L Htee Matkaan Preerian Halki Raskas Matka Saa Kuin Saakin T Yttymyksens , Kun Miehet J Ljitt V T Biisonilauman Ajantaju Unohtuu, Ja Talvi P See Yll Tt M N MiehetButcher S Crossing Julkaistiin Alun Perin Vuonna John Williamsin Ylistetyn Stonerin Tavoin Se On L Ydetty Ja Saavuttanut Menestyksen Vasta Nyt, Vuosikymmeni My Hemmin Tarina Kulkee Butcher S Crossingissa Toiseen Suuntaan Kuin Stonerissa, Yliopistomaailma Vaihtuu Karkeaan, Kovaan El M N L Hell Luontoa Williams Kunnioittaa L Nnentarinan Perinteit Ja Tavoittaa J Lleen Paljaan Ihmisyyden Kuvauksen Kirjan Pelkistetty Kerronta Vavahduttaa Lukijaa Williams biggest achievement in this novel is that there isn t an ounce of overblown characterization in the diverging life perspectives that populate Butcher s Crossing, an emerging town in the Great Plains of the old west In spite of the bison hunters, the dusty brothel with the purring prostitute, the inexperienced city boy Will Andrews from Boston, and the drunkard who nurses his whiskey with a mucky Bible and prayerful gibberish, this is not the predictable Western the reader might anticipate Clich s are exploited to serve the story, not employed to construct it An omniscient narrator delves deep into the psychological dimension of the characters who grope in the darkness of their beings in search of answers to questions not even formulated In spite of their disparate temperaments, the four men share the common bond of confronting their insig A Holocaust of HidesHe could hardly recall, now, the passion that had drawn him to this room and this flesh, as if by a subtle magnetism nor could he recall the force of that other passion which had impelled him halfway across a continent into a wilderness where he had dreamed he could find, as in a vision, his unalterable self Almost without regret, he could admit now the vanity from which those passions had sprung view spoiler It was that nothingness of which McDonald had spoken back in the sleeping house as he stood beneath the lantern that flickered weakly against the darkness it was the bright blue emptiness of Charley s Hoge s stare, into which he had glimpsed and of which he had tried to tell Francine it was the contemptuous look that Schneider had given the river just before the hoof had blamed his face it was the blind enduring set of Miller s face before the white driv Andrews dropped to his hands and knees and swung his head from side to side like a wounded animal My God he said thickly, My God, my God.
A whole winter s work, Miller said in a flat dead voice It took just about two minutes Andrews raised his head wildly, and got to his feet Schneider, he said Schneider We ve got to Miller put his hand on his shoulder Take it easy, boy Won t do no good to worry about SchneiderI went to bed last night still thinking about this remarkable book I put it on the bedside table and I vaguely recall thinking about buffalo as I slowly slid into the lost world of dreams I awoke at 3 am and was so wide awake in fact that I made myself a black coffee with honey, slowly opened the doors to the terrace and stood ther he believed and had believed for a long time that there was a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if he unconsciously yielded to it, would direct him aright 48Now Andrews could see the herd clearly Against the pale yellow green of the grass, the dark umber of the buffalo stood out sharply Many were lying at ease upon the soft valley grass those were mere humps, like dark rocks, without identity or shape some were grazing lightly, others stood unmoving, they huge furry heads slumped between their forelegs, which were so matted with long dark fur that their shapes could not be seen 127without identity or shape their shapes could not be seen Butcher s Crossing is usually classified as a Western , I guess because of its setting in Western Kansas and the mountains of Colorado, in the 1870s But this background produces, in Williams telling, a story that has little resemb
John Williams wrote four novels None of them, however, sold many copies during his lifetime I remember some years ago seeing and scanning stories about John Williams with headlines such as The Best Writer You Never Heard Of, or something similar And that certainly applied to me I had never heard of him, and I couldn t read his books because they were out of print In fact, although there were critics who praised his work his books sold few copies before disappearing literally in some cases into the trash bin of history.
He received his greatest, but fleeting, publicity when his epistolary novel set in ancient Rome, Augustus, won the National Book Award in 1973 But it didn t sell many copies either.
Fast forward to 2013 A dramatic change occurre Why read a historical novel about a privileged Harvard dropout who wants to find himself by going on a buffalo hunt 1 It s by John Williams, who wrote one of my three favourite novels, Stoner, which I reviewed HERE, as well as the almost as good Augustus, which I reviewed HERE.
2 Hunting is not what it s really about probably like Moby Dick.
3 It was a good follow on from Cold Mountain, which I reviewed HERE two totally different US landscape based stories, set only a few years apart.
What This Is and Is Not This is a road movie without the road, the car, or the film cameras It s a Western without cows, cowboys or indians native Americans It s a character based story but the main characters don t speak or move because they re the landscape and weather It s about big beasts, big wilderness, big ambitions, some big characters but it oft
In pi c l enorme talento di questo scrittore, che non spreca parole e neppure le lesina, le cerca con precisione che rimane nascosta, le organizza con perizia e pacatezza, con potere evocativo e incredibile capacit descrittiva e fa centro, come un grande tiratore, come i migliori cacciatori di quell epoca.
In questo modo, un western diventa una storia mitologica, mistica, archetipica, senza tempo, universale.
Questa come quelle che seguono sono immagini della celebre scena di caccia al bufalo del film