Friday, March 9, 2018

Bendigo Shafter

“Going on would have been simple, for travel is an escape, and as long as our wagons moved our decisions could be postponed. When one moves, one is locked in the treadmill of travel, and all decisions must await a destination. By choosing to stop we had brought our refuge tumbling about us, and our problems could no longer be avoided.

“The promised land is always a distant land, aglow with golden fire. It is a land one never attains, for once attained one faces fulfillment and the knowledge that whatever a land may promise, it may also demand a payment of courage and strength.

“To destroy is easy, to build is hard. To scoff is also very easy, but to go on in the face of scoffing and to do what is right is the way of a man.”

A later period novel from Louis L ’Amour. I’ll be honest some of his novels can strike me as sloppy or not much better than formulary, but he will occasionally have a novel that feels so from the heart, it has a rib-sticking quality to it. This volume is one of those rib-sticking works.

This novel comes from a deeply informed place and on one-hand is straight-forward simplicity in story-telling with no-frills while on the other there are moral or practical asides that give one pause for contemplation. His knowledge of the terrain rings true, he drops little bits about survival in the mountains that gibes with reality, but, again, his moral asides resonate. They tread a balance between erudite and folksy pragmatic—most importantly these asides strike me as heartfelt.

A superlative L ‘Amour novel.

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