Saturday, June 30, 2007

Border Music by Robert James Waller: book review

Robert James Waller is also the author of "The Bridges of Madison County", of which nearly everyone has heard. I haven't read that one or any of his other books, but this one caught my eye. When I picked it up and flipped through it, I saw references to Alpine, TX (the seat of the county Terlingua is in) and the Holland Hotel (wherein lies the brewpub where I had lunch, on my first visit to Alpine). At that point, I had to read it.
I guess a given book can have different meanings to different people, depending upon their viewpoint, interests and experiences in life. The official description on the inside jacket has "Texas" Jack Carmine and Linda Lobo, two complete strangers, heading out the back door of a bar in Dillon, Minnesota; bound for wherever the road takes them, but eventually to Southwest Texas and the ranch Jack has called home since boyhood.
I can't disagree with that version, but to me that is but a part of the larger story; a Skeeter Skelton-esque story of a man hanging onto the modest ranch his father left him, living in the small ranch house with his dog and his best friend, the Mexican hired hand who has worked for Jack's father and then for Jack for over 50 years. Living in that simple but safe harbor, and going out every summer to lay pipe or work with a traveling combine crew in the Midwest during the wheat harvest for some operating capital, and also to experience life in the wider world for awhile before retreating to the ranch again for the winter.
The story is about that, and about some of the more important people Jack has known in his life; and about how those people feel about Jack.
Here is an excerpt from the book that somewhat describes what sort of person is Jack Carmine: "Few months before his thirtieth birthday, in that ol' Jack Carmine way of his, he just drove over to El Paso and enlisted. That was in the summer of '69. I dunno how he ever got through basic trainin'. Jack never has done well with orders. What was it he used to say?...said he had a built-in taste for anarchy of all kinds. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said he liked situations where the borders weren't in sight and you had to go out and find 'em or make 'em up yourself." That quote is from page 183.
Did I like the book? I think that's pretty obvious.
I've added a link in the right border of this page, if you would like to buy a copy for yourself.


squire said...

Thanks Possum, I just ordered it from PaperBackSwap.

Tracy said...

Hope you enjoy it! I think it's a really good read.