Cowboy: A Novel

Cowboy: A Novel

4.0 2
by Sara Davidson

She's a fifty-year-old professional from L.A., an educated mother who writes books and screenplays. He's an unschooled cowboy from Arizona, a younger free spirit who makes bridles out of rawhide. A chance meeting brings these two opposites together and soon evolves into an intensely erotic bond that defies every expectation and endures longer than they ever


She's a fifty-year-old professional from L.A., an educated mother who writes books and screenplays. He's an unschooled cowboy from Arizona, a younger free spirit who makes bridles out of rawhide. A chance meeting brings these two opposites together and soon evolves into an intensely erotic bond that defies every expectation and endures longer than they ever dreamed ...

Editorial Reviews
It's often been said that truth is stranger than fiction. Cowboy is a contemporary love story that's the best of both: inspired by the true story of the author's romance with a real Arizona cowboy, interspersed with events from her work on the popular Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman TV show, and blended with enough fictional embellishments to bring the story to life. If the result is a love story that's almost too good to believe -- well, that's the part of the tale that's strange but completely true.
Dan Wakefield
Sara Davidson's Cowboy is a true-grit love story for our time, told with style and honesty by a master prose stylist. Inspiring without sentimental, Cowboy will give you the best ride of the year.
Hendrik Hertzberg
I started reading this marvelous book and was unable to do anything else till I got to the final sentence. Sara Davidson, it's all your fault! —The New Yorker
Whitney Otto
Cowboy is a fascinating, intricate, complex love story that cuts across class lines, defying social expectations. Davidson's relationship with Zack is full of complications and negotiations, terrible and wonderful. If we accept that love is a mystery, this mystery holds you until the last page and beyond.
Teresa Jordan
The incredible story of love far outside the comfort zone.
Davidson executes [cowboy] with intelligence, candor and humor .... Her shot is true.
Chicago Tribune
A compelling, unorthodox account of bow one woman achieved a blend ofcommitment and freedom.
Barbara Lazear Ascher
Every girl needs a cowboy. Especially if she is over forty-seven and thinks her days of passion are fading fast. Sara Davidson's compelling, funny, deeply felt book that carries an important warning: If you don't accept the love that comes your way, if you blink rather than seeing it for what it is, chances are you'll miss the great love of your life. Every girl can't have a cowboy, but she can have this book and she'd better.
Linda Gray Sexton
Novel or memoir? Who cares! Sara Davidson has created a love story so intensely intimate and so sexually compelling that every woman who reads it will be tempted to go right out and hunt down her very own cowboy. This is a book that makes you believe again in strange twist and turns of real love. —Anne Sexton
Carol Muske Dukes
The premise? That love humbles us in wonderful, unexpected ways, that if we believe in that mysterious wind that blows our lives, like tumbling tumbleweeds, into new shapes, we must ride blind with it. —Washington Post
Library Journal
The author of two novels and of Loose Change, a memoir of the 60s that at times reads like a novel, Davidson has produced another hybrid, this one nonfiction but disguised somewhat to protect her two children and others. However Davidson or the publisher define it, the book defies categorization. The story itself is about an erotic love affair/true love between Davidson, then a coproducer and head writer for TV's "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," and an uneducated Arizona cowboy skilled at the art of making rawhide bridles. Though the eroticism is here, as is the tension between Davidson and cowboy Zack and her children, ultimately, whether fact or fiction, the effect is flat. This is one story Davidson might have kept to herself. Planned publicity may create some demand. -- Francine Fialkoff
Entertainment Weekly
...[C]ompulsively readable.
Laura Jamison
A juicy memoir by a woman who lassos a cowboy lover...Davdson executes [Cowboy] with intelligence, candor and humor.
People Magazine
The Boston Herald
Since Cowboy hit the bookstores, The Cowboy Option has been hotly debated....Isn't it time to break the final taboo -- the class taboo?
Lucinda Rosenfeld
...[I]t's not easy being a member of the cultural elite -- as Sara Davidson makes all too clear in her...fictionalized memoir about her love affair with an uneducated cowboy artisan.
The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.78(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I've always loved cowboys. The way they look has a great deal to do with it. The sight of the Marlboro man on a billboard can give me a jolt of longing as I drive through traffic on my way to work. I imagine that the way some men respond to the sight of a woman in seamed stockings and garter belt is the way I feel when I see a man in chaps. The rough leather directs the eye up the legs to the place where the leather stops, just below the groin. The tight-fitting jeans, the boots with spurs, even the hat with its rakish, playful shape contribute to an image that I find deeply appealing.

It's an image that suggests ruggedness and wildness, cockiness, a sense of fun, and an intimate power over animals. Until the summer of 1993, however, I did not associate this image with a fine-tuned intelligence. I did not expect a cowboy to be articulate and well-read, I expected him to possess a crude, right-wing dumbness, so that for a woman with a certain education, a romance with a cowboy would be a misalliance.

I was intrigued, then, when I heard about cowboy poets. I was writing and producing a Western TV series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, when one of the wranglers on the set showed me a poster for a cowboy poetry and music festival in Elko, Nevada.

The wrangler, Earl McCoy, had puffy jowls and a stomach that pooched out over his belt, but the cowboys on the poster were lean, muscular, perched on a fence rail with their Stetsons tipped down over their foreheads.

"These men write poetry?"

"Hell, yes," Earl said. "Good poetry."

"Where is Elko, Nevada?"

"About four hours east of Reno." That was four hours east ofnot much.

He gave me tapes of them singing and reciting their poems, and after listening to them, I knew I had to go. I talked my friend Jeanne Davis, a colleague on the show, into coming with me, and arranged to write an article about the festival so that if it proved a disaster, I wouldn't be wasting a weekend. The other producers on the show joked that I was going to Elko "to get laid by cowboys," and, of course, there was a seed of truth in this. I had an instinct something might happen in Elko but I did not put much stock in that instinct; I didn't pack any form of birth control.

Two weeks later, I stood in my closet trying to decide what to wear. Jeans, obviously, but I had Calvin Klein jeans, I would look like a city slicker but that was unavoidable. I washed my hair and let it dry, fluffing it with my fingers. My hair was curly and when I was younger I'd spent painful ho'urs trying to tame it, blow it dry, straighten it with an iron, or wind it on giant rollers with Dippity-Do, but now I left it natural.

Everything in my grooming routine was honed for efficiency and speed. I wore no makeup. I smoothed on skin moisturizer with sunblock, pulled on the jeans and a teal-colored shirt from Banana Republic and Italian shoe-boots and I was ready to walk out the door.

I drove my daughter, Sophie, who was eleven, and my son, Gabriel, ten, to their dad's house, opening the back of the station wagon to let Sophie out with her cat, Butterball. She was wearing a brown tank top, brown corduroy jeans, and brown nail polish with gold polka dots.

"Why can't I come with you?" she said.

"You know why. It's your Weekend with Dad."

"If it's all right with him, can I come?"

I hugged her. "I'll be back Sunday night. I'll bring you a present."

Gabriel was dragging his skateboard out of the car, along with a bagful of CDs. "Can I have money instead of a present?"


"I'll take a present then." He leaned forward and kissed my cheek. "Love you, Mom."

"I love you too." I watched them walk to the door and waited for it to open. "Don't forget your reading!"

When I pulled up to Jeanne's house, she was waiting on the sidewalk with two large tote bags. She'd once been a flight attendant and I knew that in those tote bags was everything we could possibly need: a travel alarm clock, three boxes of Band-Aids in three different sizes, containers of healthy Sun Chips, regular and barbecue flavor, herbal tea bags, and an electric coil to heat water for the tea.

"Why are we doing this?" I said.

"It'll be a hoot," she said, buckling her seat belt.

"We have no idea what we're going to find."

She switched on the radio to KZLA, the country-music station, to set the mood. "Earl goes every year."

"Earl's strange."

Heads turned as we walked through the airport in Nevada to pick up our rental car. Jeanne was five feet ten, with that long, dazzling, bright blonde hair you find on women in Sweden, and I was equally tall with dark hair and neither of us wore a bra. We did not look as if we came from Elko.

We drove across town, passing the Red Lion Motel, which had two giant plastic steers in front, the Commercial Hotel, which had a white king polar bear rearing up over the door, numerous feed stores, and Brenda's Wedding Chapel, where you could get married with no blood test and no waiting.

When we arrived at the Elko Fairgrounds, however, we saw that the bleachers we'd expected to be filled with cowboys were packed instead with families-tourists wearing Bermuda shorts and carrying Big Gulp drinks. On the stage, a group of geriatric cowboys were singing "Tumbling Tumbleweed," and one broke....

Cowboy. Copyright © by Sara Davidson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Dan Wakefield
Told with style and honesty by a master prose stylist...Cowboy will give you the best ride of the year.
— Author of Going All the Way
Barbara Lazear Ascher
Every girl can't have a cowboy, but she can have this book. And, she'd better.
— Author of Dancing inthe Dark
Linda Grey Sexton
Intensely intimate...sexually compelling....This is a book that makes you believe in the strange twists and turns of real love.
Sara Davidson
"It was my intention to tell the story without slavishly adhering to the facts but to the emotional truth of what happened. How in this some ways absurd relationship, love...[is] possible at any age and may not come in forms you expect, and if you open up to it, what are the consequences....It isn't often God gives you this kind of material....I have a friend wo calls it fourth-wave feminism, when all the rules go out the window and women can choose what I call non-traditional men....[I]t's becoming more acceptable and possible for women to have a broader choice.
— Interviewed in The New York Times, April 5, 1999
Whitney Otto
If we accept that love is a mystery, this mystery holds you until the last page and beyond.
— Author of How To Make an American Quilt

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