Escaping into the fantasy of his books when he's not working in the general store, Ethan Keller has lived a sheltered life in his mother's boarding house. One day, an enigmatic cowboy passing through the small Texas town takes an immediate liking to the shy seventeen-year-old. Ethan is intrigued by the attention, and the cowboy eventually charms him into signing on to a 900-mile cattle drive. Ethan soon finds that his feelings for this cowboy run deeper than just friendship. He never knew that this kind of love even existed; and now for the two of them to make a life together in the untamed west, they must face nearly insurmountable odds if they are to survive. One of the first young adult novels to combine a likeable gay lead with the Old West!
''...This book has the warm, Technicolor feel of one of John Ford's later films. The author admits to being a fan of the big Hollywood films, and if you are too, you will love this, because there are touches of them all here. You can feel the sun beating on your neck, the tamed frontier towns, the grit from the summer heat, and the fresh wind of a stranger who blows into town...'' --Erastes, author of Standish and I Knew Him
|File size:||834 KB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Mark R. Probst has been a life-long fan of the Hollywood western. In his first novel, a contemporary take on his favorite genre, he decided to pay homage to the films he so fondly remembered.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Keller lives a simple life, spending his days working as a clerk in his small town's general store, and his evenings at his widowed mother's boarding house dinner table. Ethan's never considered a life beyond the sheltered reach of a dutiful second son trying to keep his older brother, Willie, out of trouble, finding snippets of time to indulge his love of reading and dreaming of buying a colt or filly of his own some day. All of that changes when a charismatic and persistent young cowboy named Travis Cain walks into his life. Sensing a kindred spirit, Travis dares Ethan to dream beyond that which he's ever dared, and soon convinces Ethan to sign on to the Hayward Ranch's summer cattle drive. During the journey from Texas to Cheyenne, Ethan and Travis test the limits of their endurance, explore the bonds of true friendship, and discover a love that will eventually risk everything they hold dear. In THE FILLY, author Mark R. Probst combines the tender beauty of love - be it the blossoming romance between two young men at a time when the only term to characterize their relationship came in the form of Biblical condemnation, the fierce protectiveness of families for their own, or friendships forged in the most dire of circumstances - with the gritty, bare-boned realism of life in the old west. There were a few times when I was jarred from the narrative by an inconsistency of language, a bit of cardboard characterization among many of the novel's secondary players, and an ending that came too abruptly for my personal taste, but these factors were far outweighed by the depth and sensitivity in Mr. Probst's depictions of Ethan, Travis, and their relationship.
Rating first novels is a different assignment than rating novels by authors whose output allows comparison with a gamut of works: usually a five star rating denotes a major work of genius. But to encounter a work as simply beautiful as Mark R. Probst's THE FILLY makes such a positive impression (and a suggestion that this may be the opening work in a significant career) that it requires a heads-up to the audience. And so a five star rating for this book, for this reader, is justified. This is a work of courage on the part of subject matter, but it is also an example of clarity in writing and in technique that deserves applause. Probst takes us back in time to 1878 and to the age of the Westerns so rhapsodized by the films of the 40s and 50s, western tales more interested in the grandeur of the frontier and the simple purity of the feelings of characters isolated from the more decadent big cities. With a keen eye for vocabulary and scene setting, Probst takes us to Texas and introduces us to a gentle, bookish lad named Ethan who supports his mother and older brother Willie (whose activities include drinking, whoring, and crime) by working in a store. Into this gentle time enters a handsome cowboy Travis, looking for a place to stay while he waits for the job of the summer - driving a herd of cattle to Colorado. Travis causes an unfamiliar response within Ethan, an emotional and sensual feeling that is as new as spring rain. Through a series of conversations and incidents, Travis convinces Ethan to accompany him on the cattle drive and Ethan makes his first break from his family to follow the mystery that he finds in Travis. What follows is one of the most understated love stories on paper, and that is not to say that this novel fears commitment to gay love and expression of feelings physically: Probst writes with dignity and subtlety and in doing so he manages to weave a truly romantic novel instead of a story of descriptive lust. The two men fall in love and when the cattle drive is complete they return home to tell their families of their plans to move to the Rockies to raise horses. A surprise tragedy occurs, one that causes the ugly head of homophobia to threaten the story's end, but Probst guides the bonded couple through a perilous experience, assuring us that the sun always rises in good westerns. The story may sound simplistic, but it is peppered with very well drawn secondary characters, each of whom plays a significant role in the story. There is no 'filler' here, no meaningless meandering through sidebars that squelch the momentum of the story. Probst writes beautifully and while some may criticize the Romantic approach of his writing, the poetry fits the melody - and the song is a fine one! THE FILLY is a strong novel by a fine writer and for a first work, this book will be a standard by which his certain subsequent novels will be judged. Grady Harp