Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey (1921) Illustrated by Hoffman

A great summer read, I like this kind of thing because the summer is so free compared to the winter shut-in and Grey takes us out into a wide wild world, full of flowers, lightness and darkness.
Much more compact than "The Riders" a lot less ominous, still very dramatic.

Love, hate, family, outlaws,  and redemption; pretty standard Zane fair, its high reader rating is, I think very well earned.

Very intriguing, with only a couple pages of that over preachy / sappy stuff, otherwise one of those books I could not wait to get back to.

A rough condition 1st edition copy from an estate sale for $1.

The Hoffman illustrations are great but have little chiaroscuro. (I enhanced them in PS for you)

I did some repairs to the binding so it should be good for another 96 years.

My favorite character is (of course) Ben; wilder and dumber in his younger days he has come around to helping others with what little relevant knowledge he has to offer.

Set in his ways, still (as always) willing to say what others don't want to hear, Ben attempts to make up for some long past mistakes.

Grey paints an' paints vistas of the west, this story takes place in some very specific Colorado locations, so for those who know the area it must be an especially fine experience.

Ben tries to make friends with the ungrateful punk-ass son:
""Young fellar, you need to be talked to, so if you've got any sense at
all it'll get a wedge in your brain," went on Wade. "I'm a stranger
here. But I happen to be a man who sees through things, an' I see how
your dad handles you wrong. You don't know who I am an' you don't care.
But if you'll listen you'll learn what might help you.... No boy can
answer to all his wild impulses without ruinin' himself. It's not
natural. There are other people--people who have wills an' desires, same
as you have. You've got to live with people. Here's your dad an' Miss
Columbine, an' the cowboys, an' me, an' all the ranchers, so down to
Kremmlin' an' other places. These are the people you've got to live
with. You can't go on as you've begun, without ruinin' yourself an' your
dad an' the--the girl.... It's never too late to begin to be better. I
know that. But it gets too late, sometimes, to save the happiness of
others. Now I see where you're headin' as clear as if I had pictures of
the future."

 Love the "Western speak" heavy throughout the book.

Probably a dozen or more passages like this where Grey describes the world apart from and indifferent to the comings and goings of man.

"Spring came early that year at White Slides Ranch. The snow melted off
the valleys, and the wild flowers peeped from the greening grass while
yet the mountain domes were white. The long stone slides were glistening
wet, and the brooks ran full-banked, noisy and turbulent and roily.

Soft and fresh of color the gray old sage slopes came out from under
their winter mantle; the bleached tufts of grass waved in the wind and
showed tiny blades of green at the roots; the aspens and oaks, and the
vines on fences and cliffs, and the round-clumped, brook-bordering
willows took on a hue of spring.

The mustangs and colts in the pastures snorted and ran and kicked and
cavorted; and on the hillsides the cows began to climb higher, searching
for the tender greens, bawling for the new-born calves. Eagles shrieked
the release of the snow-bound peaks, and the elks bugled their piercing
calls. The grouse-cocks spread their gorgeous brown plumage in parade
before their twittering mates, and the jays screeched in the woods, and
the sage-hens sailed along the bosom of the gray slopes.

Black bears, and browns, and grizzlies came out of their winter's sleep,
and left huge, muddy tracks on the trails; the timber wolves at dusk
mourned their hungry calls for life, for meat, for the wildness that was
passing; the coyotes yelped at sunset, joyous and sharp and impudent.

But winter yielded reluctantly its hold on the mountains. The black,
scudding clouds, and the squalls of rain and sleet and snow, whitening
and melting and vanishing, and the cold, clear nights, with crackling
frost, all retarded the work of the warming sun. The day came, however,
when the greens held their own with the grays; and this was the
assurance of nature that spring could not be denied, and that summer
would follow."

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