North to Yesterday
Robert Flynn has built a richly humorous, poignantly tragic novel around a cattle drive that forces cowboys to herd cattle on foot, to lower themselves to milk a wild longhorn, to tend a baby as well as a herd. At the center of the tale is Lampassas, the storekeeper who has heard the tales of the trail so often he knows the route by heart. Risking all for one last grand adventure, he heads for Trail's End with a herd of straggly, bony longhorns and an odd company of hands: Jamie, his reluctant son; Preacher, a self-ordained revivalist; Gattis, a farm boy never meant to wear cowboy boots; June, a stable hand who finds confidence and courage from his six-shooter; and Pretty Shadow, a drifting cowboy seeking the love of his early youth. Add to this group Covina, a riotously bold but appealing girl with an illegitimate baby, and you have the wildest, most improbable trail driving crew ever. At once magnificent and absurd, Lampassas holds the long drive together in the face of stampedes, drouth, flood, and horse thieves.
"It's the first feller that does something that is the hero, and the last feller that does it that is the fool," Preacher tells Lampassas. But Lampassas and his crew are made great by the enormity of their folly, the strength of their dream.
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