In Time of Harvest

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Clear Light Publishers, 1993 - Fiction - 255 pages
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Often compared to other American greats: Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" and Caldwell's "Tobacco Road," John Sinclair's timeless tale comes from a wellspring of personal experience and captures a unique portrait of the individualism that makes up our nation's proud history. "In Time of Harvest" is flavoured by an earthy wisdom and a sense of humour that could come only from someone like John Sinclair, who as a cowboy in the twenties and thirties lived on the New Mexico prairie and who knew intimately the homesteaders he portrays in this timeless and unforgettable novel. Rustic heroism in the face of tragedy, surprising comedy, and vivid storytelling make "In Time of Harvest" a classic. Much like the now 90 year old author himself, the novel tells the story of people caught up in the American dream which was realised in the great south-west. The McClung clan sets out in 1919 to travel by mule from Oklahoma to the New Mexico territories. In a one-room shack on the wild prairie, the goal is deceptively simple: raise both beans and a family. Neither proves to be an easy task. "In Time of Harvest" tells the story of Tod McClung and his family, who arrived from Oklahoma with a team of mules in 1919, having travelled "seven hundred miles to reach one square mile . . . we can call our own". Sinclair himself worked in the Estnacia Valley in the 1920s and 1930s as a cowboy on ranches bordering the farms of "nesters" like the McClungs. With compassion, humour, and his considerable storytelling gifts, Sinclair weaves a fascinating tragi-comic history of the McClungs and their neighbours, recounting their story in the distinctive country idiom of that place and time. Written in prose as rich and earthy as the land and people it so vividly portrays, this classic novel of the Southwest is about the McClungs, a family of homesteaders raising beans and themselves in the southern New Mexico of the 1920s and 1930s. In an introduction, Frank Waters, Sinclair's long-time friend, speaks of Sinclair's craftsmanship and inborn artistry, and his unsentimental yet sympathetic treatment of his characters, who embody a "crude realism, an earthy, unconventional response to every hardship".

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