Land Rush: Stories from the Great Plains

Land Rush: Stories from the Great Plains

by Gary Reiswig
     
 

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On the Great Plains, boys nearing manhood have to grow up tough even if their hearts are tender. In this collection of stories based on true events from his boyhood, Gary Reiswig leads others back to the time when the last homesteaders-like his own family-arrived in the Oklahoma Panhandle to claim their pot of gold in the great land rush, the last westward thrust

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Overview

On the Great Plains, boys nearing manhood have to grow up tough even if their hearts are tender. In this collection of stories based on true events from his boyhood, Gary Reiswig leads others back to the time when the last homesteaders-like his own family-arrived in the Oklahoma Panhandle to claim their pot of gold in the great land rush, the last westward thrust of Manifest Destiny.

A farm boy learns to drive a tractor when he's nine, castrate and dehorn calves at twelve. After his father points out old trails, the boy realizes that Native Americans hunted buffalo on the very land his family owns and has fenced, where they now pasture their cattle. 2 A strong-headed boy attends a box supper with his parents, and unwittingly helps a tobacco-chewing neighbor, despised by his mother, recognize her box so he can buy it. 2 A boy, small for his age, discovers unexpected danger when he visits the Grand Canyon and hikes the Bright Angel Trail. 2 A beloved uncle heads to Korea to fight in the war leaving his nephew to care for his two-door hardtop. No one has any idea how drastically this separation will alter their relationship.

The stories in Land Rush provide an unforgettable glimpse into the time and place where only the strongest survived and a handshake sealed the deal.

"Gary Reiswig's strong, unsentimental voice carries us to a time-the fifties-and a place-the Oklahoma Panhandle-that is at once exotic and home with its hard, wounded, beautifully evoked mothers, fathers, and sons trying to survive one another's love."

-Robert Lipsyte, author of The Accidental Sportswriter and The Contender

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-10-17
Bookended by sections of memoir and history, these four short stories give a vivid picture of Oklahoma past and near-present.Reiswig (Water Boy, 2012, etc.) was raised in Oklahoma and came of age in the 1950s. The first portion of memoir tells of life on the farm for Reiswig when he was a boy following in his father's footsteps. It culminates with his initiation in castrating a young bull, an act that leaves him dizzy and burdened with new wisdom he can't yet comprehend. "The Box Supper" features a boy of about the same age and a vaguely menacing character named Dootie Poor. Sexual tensions are writhing just below the surface at an innocent-seeming school fundraiser. Again, this boy knows without really knowing that things are not as they seem. In fact, all the short stories basically concern a boy about to discover himself; sometimes he is referred to as "the boy," and his parents are "the man" and "the woman," giving the stories a reverberating universality. In "Two-Door Hardtop," Dean's uncle Bernie, about to fight in Korea, buys a brand-new Ford Crown Victoria and entrusts it to Dean (who can't even drive yet) for the duration. But a very different—shellshocked—Bernie comes home and is never whole and sound again. When Bernie eventually sells the car, Dean feels betrayed. "Fair Game" is a punning title referring to high school football, rivalries and even bird hunting. In "Bright Angel Trail," family history and dynamics are exposed while the vacationing family travels a desperate hike down that titular trail in the Grand Canyon. The closing memoir section relates the Reiswig family history, starting when they were "Volga Germans" in Russia in the 18th century and then early settlers of the Oklahoma panhandle, living through the Dust Bowl and other trying times. They were tough people living in an elemental landscape. Reiswig writes clearly and well, a style as simple and open as the high plains, giving readers the Oklahoma of fundamentalist religion, fanatical high school sports, and all the things that hold people together through their hardscrabble existences. You don't have to be an Okie to appreciate that.Good reads to be pondered over.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781480809192
Publisher:
Archway Publishing
Publication date:
07/29/2014
Pages:
118
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.28(d)

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