In Red Eye, Clyde Edgerton leads us back in time to turn-of-the-century Colorado, where a motley crew of innocents and scoundrels, visionaries and vultures tells us How the West Was Made Safe for Free Enterprise. The scene is pueblo country and the man with the plan is Billy Blankenship, frontier entrepreneur. Blankenship aims to turn the newly discovered Native American cliff dwellings of Mesa Largo into America's first Roadside Attraction. He enlists the aid of North Carolina embalmer P.J. Copeland in the ahem ...
In Red Eye, Clyde Edgerton leads us back in time to turn-of-the-century Colorado, where a motley crew of innocents and scoundrels, visionaries and vultures tells us How the West Was Made Safe for Free Enterprise. The scene is pueblo country and the man with the plan is Billy Blankenship, frontier entrepreneur. Blankenship aims to turn the newly discovered Native American cliff dwellings of Mesa Largo into America's first Roadside Attraction. He enlists the aid of North Carolina embalmer P.J. Copeland in the ahem undertaking. The unrepentantly polygamist bishop has other plans for the dwelling - that is, if the bounty hunter doesn't get him first. The basis of this astounding new novel is historical truth - that, in 1857, a troop of Mormons using Indian wiles attacked a wagon train of pioneers near Salt Lake City. Orders from Brigham Young were to leave none alive to tell the tale. Edgerton has a keen sense of the dark undercurrents of the West. He knows that there were, on both sides of right and wrong, several "left to tell the tale."
The redoubtable Edgerton jauntily plumbs new territory in this tall-tale sixth novel after In Memory of Junior, departing from the South that was the setting of his previous books. The wilds of southern Colorado in the 1890s are home to his cast of transplanted Carolinians, a quirky bunch whose antics have much in common with those of their brethren in Edgerton's other books. The Copeland family has come west to Mumford Rock en masse, led by P.J. Pleasant James, a newly licensed embalmer with big ideas. His ambitions are abetted by shifty Billy Blankenship, who plans to turn the cliff dwellings at Mesa Largo into the forerunner of Disney World. Together they engage in some highly questionable commercial ventures, encountering en route an oddly matched group of Western frontiersmen, renegade Mormons, a pair of alcoholic Indians, an aristocratic young English scholar and an obsessive bounty hunter and his mixed-breed ``catchdog'' named Redeye. Artfully using a kaleidoscopic sequence of first-person vignettes and shifting the narrative voice among this ragtag crew, Edgerton larks along from one outrageous incident to another, beginning with a plan to explode the corpse of a dead ``Chinaman'' on the platform of the train depot. Lurking on the fringe is the dog-owning bounty hunter intent on wreaking vengeance on the Mormons responsible for an infamous real 1892 shootout with a wagon train of pioneers. By the time Redeye narrates his own version of events, we believe every word. Fun from start to finish, this tale should go on building sales right through Christmas. Apr.
Edgerton In Memory of Junior, LJ 9/1/92 has strayed from the familiar North Carolina setting of his former novels to tell a rollicking tale of cowboys and Indians, Englishmen and maidens, all set in Colorado 100 years ago. The cliff dwellings of southwest Colorado attract a motley crew of explorers in 1892, each with a personal agenda. Abel Merriwether, a local rancher and amateur archaeologist, wants to explore and protect the site; Andrew Collier, an Englishman, wants to write about it; Billy Blankenship, a local businessman, wants to develop it for tourism; Bishop Thorpe, a Mormon saint, hopes to find proof that Jesus visited there 2000 years before; and Cobb Pittman, a drifter with a red-eyed dog, seeks revenge on Thorpe for the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1875. How this diverse bunch converges for an ill-fated tour of the site is unforgettable. A master storyteller, Edgerton proves that he is in full command of his craft no matter what the setting. For all collections.-Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib, Carbondale
If it had been left up to the barmy cowboys who populate Edgerton's latest novel, the West would never have been won. There's P. J. Copeland, recent graduate of the Darless Mortuary Science College, who wishes to introduce the modern method of embalming to the good citizens of Mumford Park, Colorado. His idea of a marketing ploy is to dynamite a corpse in the middle of town and claim it exploded because of the heat. There's also P. J.'s nephew, Bumpy, whose attempt to lasso a donkey almost costs him his thumb, as well as the requisite man in black, Cobb Pittman, a bounty hunter who travels with a red-eyed pit bull confined in a saddle bag--oh yes, the pit bull talks. One wonders, is a talking dog ever a good idea? The outlandish plot of this tall tale is almost impossible to summarize but revolves around an infamous Mormon attack on pioneers and the excavation of newly discovered cliff dwellings. Because Edgerton roams so far and wide here, his novel never quite hangs together, but he certainly delivers some hilarious set pieces. The author's many fans, accustomed to the rural North Carolina setting of Edgerton's previous five novels, may be a bit startled by this book's move west, but they'll stick around for the ride anyway.
Clyde Edgerton is the author of eight novels, five of which have been New York Times Notables. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and performs with his band, Rank Strangers. Author Web site—www.clydeedgerton.com.