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Kittredge, Wimmiam: Willow Field, The

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Annie Dillard has called him "one of our finest writers." Jane Smiley has declared his voice "prophetic." Now, at long last--after two collections of stories, another two of essays, and the heralded memoir "A Hole in the Sky"--William Kittredge gives us his first novel: an epic that stretches over the twentieth century, from the settlers, cowboys, and gamblers who opened up this country to the landholders and politicians who ran it.
Rossie Benasco's horseback existence begins when he's fifteen and culminates in a thousand-mile drive of more than two hundred head of horses through the Rockies into Calgary, through Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, across virgin wilderness, failed homesteads, ghost towns, squatters' camps, and Indian settlements. It's a journey that leads him, ultimately, to Eliza Stevenson and a love so powerful that his vocational aimlessness is focused only by his desire to spend his life with her: whether on her family ranch in the Bitterroot, which will prove their best refuge from a century fraught with war and civil strife, or on sojourns in Hawaii and Guam during World War II, or in the horse-trading business in California, or on the campaign trail throughout Montana.
A novel rich with landscapes and characters, "The Willow Field" chronicles a way of life nearly extinct at the novel's beginning and surviving only in memory upon its close at century's end. And as these people pivot between the ghosts of the old frontier and the modern world that engulfs them--from the uprooted lives of the Blackfeet tribes left listless and betrayed to the ravages of war, McCarthyism, urban riots, and insidious land development--the perennial imperatives of ambition, responsibility, and love prove as vital as ever, revealed as they are with the conviction, humor, and humanity for which Kittredge has long been acclaimed.