The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays

Overview

William Kittredge’s relationship to the spare, often unforgiving Western landscape is fraught with contradictions. Having grown up on a cattle ranch in Oregon, he has an intimate connection to the vast landscape that was once vital to his family’s trade. He has also witnessed, over many decades, the depletion of the West’s natural resources due to overuse. In The Next Rodeo, the author's luminous essays move effortlessly from the personal to the political. With grace and integrity, Kittredge directly ...

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Overview

William Kittredge’s relationship to the spare, often unforgiving Western landscape is fraught with contradictions. Having grown up on a cattle ranch in Oregon, he has an intimate connection to the vast landscape that was once vital to his family’s trade. He has also witnessed, over many decades, the depletion of the West’s natural resources due to overuse. In The Next Rodeo, the author's luminous essays move effortlessly from the personal to the political. With grace and integrity, Kittredge directly confronts the myths that lie at the heart of the Western experience: male freedom and female domesticity, the wild and the tame, self-interest and the love of the land.

On the heels of Kittredge’s first novel, The Willow Field, published to wide critical acclaim in 2006, we are pleased to offer the best of his nonfiction writings.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"You may never again see the American West in quite the same way if you take the time to view it through the eyes of William Kittredge." —The Seattle Times

"Reading this richly detailed book is like listening to Hank Williams. Its twangy, melancholic strains cut to the bone." —Booklist (starred review), on Owning It All

Kirkus Reviews
A gathering of essays, mostly autobiographical, by the poet laureate of the Inland Empire. Kittredge (The Willow Field, 2006, etc.) was in his 30s when he decided that he wanted to leave the family ranch in the desert of southeastern Oregon, earn a degree and become a writer. "An ill-educated boy," he writes, "I once thought no one would ever give me much that would prove very useful in terms of realizing my evolving dreams. Turns out it's been gifts all the way." Out in the outback, news traveled slowly. In that vast remoteness, a place where the people were "secure from the world," even such momentous events as the dropping of the atomic bomb took their time to become known. Now news arrives quickly, and so does everything else. Kittredge brings the news in reverse, writing about the eternal verities, the cycles of planting and harvest and butchering. His portraits of the people who work the land are immediate and affecting. In one piece, he recalls driving across the desert with a broken-down rodeo cowboy who traveled in a pink Cadillac with no windshield-"not broken out, but missing entirely, as if it had never been there," oblivious to the fact that it was "a windy sonofabitch" out there but well aware that his shaven-for-Sunday-meeting face was now plastered with bugs and saddened by the fact, as Gregory Peck, Kittredge adds, was saddened in the movie The Gunfighter by the fact that he'd never owned a watch. Kittredge recounts missed steps along the way, moments of bad management and poor harvests and the beauties of living in a place where the wagon tracks from a century past were still carved into the desert floor and the air was sharp and fresh-a place that largely exists now inhis imagination. A fine summation of Kittredge's excellent body of work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555974794
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,476,600
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

William Kittredge grew up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Oregon. He taught creative writing at the University of Montana for twenty-nine years and retired as Regents Professor of English. He now lives in Missoula, Montana.

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Read an Excerpt

I've learned to think of myself as having had the luck to grow up at the tail end of a way of existing in which people lived in everyday proximity to animals on territory they knew more precisely than the patterns in the palms of their hands.

—from "Owning It All"

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