The Far Canyon

Overview

The Far Canyon, the sequel to Slaughter was published in 1994 and won Elmer Kelton his sixth esteemed Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. By 2002 Kelton had not only earned his seventh Spur Award with Way of the Coyote, but had also won three Western Heritage Awards. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum honored Kelton for The Time it Never Rained in 1974, The Good Old Boys in 1979, and The Man Who Rode Midnight in 1988. With such accomplishments, it is easy to understand why, in 1995, the ...

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Overview

The Far Canyon, the sequel to Slaughter was published in 1994 and won Elmer Kelton his sixth esteemed Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. By 2002 Kelton had not only earned his seventh Spur Award with Way of the Coyote, but had also won three Western Heritage Awards. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum honored Kelton for The Time it Never Rained in 1974, The Good Old Boys in 1979, and The Man Who Rode Midnight in 1988. With such accomplishments, it is easy to understand why, in 1995, the Western Writers of America voted Elmer Kelton the greatest western writer of all time.

In The Far Canyon, Kelton masterfully unveils for his reader the finality of the buffalo’s demise, the beginning of a time when cattle would replace the American bison on the southern plains and ultimately end the Plains Indian culture. The novel reveals the history of the period, not in a general grand swoop of the pen, but rather, up close and personal, so his readership can judge the impact of the period upon his characters.

The novel’s first chapter introduces Comanche warrior Crow Feather, whose situation is emblematic of a common recurring theme in all of Kelton’s works . . . change. Protagonist Jeff Layne is faced with the very same dramatic problem, the devastating threat to one’s self-concept inherent in change. Layne, the hide hunter from Slaughter is weary of killing and death. He decides to return to South Texas, determined to earn his living with the newest resource on the plains, cattle. And the cultures collide.

Kelton eloquently reveals the impact of hide hunters on Plains Indian culture. Crow Feather realizes that no matter how many whites the Comanche kill, there will always be more “coming back.” Crow Feather also understands that his life and the lives of his wives and children will never be easy again. Are Layne and Crow Feather of a character that will allow them to escape a predetermined fate by reaching that far canyon, or will they simply perish under the cultural dictate of their historical time?
The question is a thematic dilemma that Kelton excels at and it is what transforms his writing into serious literature.

Elmer Kelton has driven the western genre into new territory, and The Far Canyon continues the saga of two of his most memorable characters. Both Confederate veteran, Jeff Layne, and the Comanche warrior, Crow Feather, return to face bitter challenges to their freedom and ideals. For both men, a remote canyon becomes the place they choose to make a final stand.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Veteran western writer Kelton begins this sequel to Slaughter exactly where that Golden Spur-winning yarn ended, in Texas, 1874. After the Battle of Adobe Walls, the Commanche warrior Crow Feather lies bleeding but alive. Jeff Layne, too, has survived--just as he survived both a Union slug during the Civil War and his days as a buffalo hunter during the great bison slaughters. Now Layne, tired of death and killing, is headed back to south Texas to resume ranching. But when he and his wayward band including old friend and camp cook Cap Doolittle, and Englishman Nigel Smithwick and his untutored American bride, Arletta reach their destination, Layne discovers that a ruthless Yankee reconstruction government has wreaked havoc and that his ranch is now owned by his old enemy, Vesper Freed. But Texas is a big place, and, rather than fight for his land, Layne decides to move north and start again. Still, he can't avoid the inevitable tangle with Freed. Layne and his companions' story is interlaced with that of Crow Feather, whose hope of living a peaceful, isolated existence with his people seems to have been dashed when he's confined to a degrading and violent reservation. Despite being longer than the average western, this well-plotted novel holds interest and will prove especially rewarding for those already caught up in the adventures of Crow Feather, Layne and company. Aug.
Library Journal
Kelton, a prolific and award-winning author of Westerns, has produced another solid success in this sequel to Slaughter Doubleday, 1992. Ten years after the Civil War, Jeff Layne, a Confederate veteran weary of killing both men and buffalo, wends his way along dusty cattle trails toward his family ranch in Texas. When he gets to his hometown, however, he finds that the property has been stolen by the dastardly Vesper Freed, who also stole Jeff's girl, Eva, some years ago. Jeff decides to gather up some cattle and a party of companions and head to a remote canyon in north Texas to start up a new ranch. Along the way, the party encounters Crow Feather and his Comanche family, who are trying to escape from the newly formed reservation. Written with obvious knowledge of the American frontier and Native American culture, this grand saga will appeal to fans of Larry McMurtry. Highly recommended.-Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Calumet Lib., Hammond, Ind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875654126
  • Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2010
  • Series: Texas Tradition Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Elmer Kelton was voted All-Time Greatest Western Author by Western Writers of America. He received seven Spur Awards, four Wrangler Awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum, and lifetime achievement awards from WWA, Western American Literature Association, and the Texas Institute of Letters. He was the author of more than fifty novels.

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Table of Contents

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