Where Rivers Change Direction

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University of Utah Press, 1999 - Nature - 267 pages
4 Reviews
IF THE WEST HAD A VOICE this is how it would sound: writing as passionate and unequivocal as the land and the life that inspires it.

Mark Spragg's stunning collection of essays renders an unforgettable story of an adolescence spent on the oldest dude ranch in Wyoming -- a remote spread on the Shoshone National Forest, the largest block of unfenced wilderness in the lower forty-eight states.

In this sublime and unforgiving landscape, Spragg's mercurial father, his resilient mother, his fierce and devoted younger brother Rick, and his mentor, the wry and wise cowboy John, cleave to one another and to the harsh life they have chosen. Unrelenting winds, pitiless blizzards, muscular rivers -- from these elements Spragg divines the universal yearnings for self-reliance, trust, acceptance, and love.

On the occasion of buying his first horse, Spragg earns a rare day-off from work and spends it at a stock auction with his father, a man whose love, though earned, remains ineffable. A life-threatening accident on an elk hunt in a remote wilderness area becomes a reflection upon the depth and nature of the bond between a young man and his mentor. A boy's desire to fire a gun is cause for questioning rites of passage that wed manhood and violence. A mortally injured wild horse and a mysterious, reclusive neighbor haunt the winter Spragg spends as a caretaker at a snow-bound ranch where the dance between life and death, sanity and insanity, is inescapable.

With uncommon candor and insight seated in compassion, humor, and joy, Where Rivers Change Direction illuminates the unexpected wisdom and irrevocable truth embedded in the small but profound dramas of one boy's journey toward manhood. Froma wild and unforgiving setting emerges an individual of extraordinary fortitude, humility, and understanding.

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User Review  - TimBazzett - LibraryThing

Mark Spragg is a wonderful writer. His sense of place in the modern west of his native Wyoming is impeccably rendered. The trouble is, because these essays were written and printed elsewhere as ... Read full review

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User Review  - peartreebooks - LibraryThing

The absolute best memoir I've ever read. Mark is an amazing wordsmith. Read full review


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About the author (1999)

MARK SPRAGG was born and raised on the Wyoming dude ranch his family had run since 1898. His memoir, "Where Rivers Change Direction, " chronicling the history of this ranch, won the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, and was a Book Sense Top 10 Pick as well as hitting bestseller lists throughout the West. His previous novel, "The Fruit of Stone, " is also available on audio from HighBridge. He now lives in Cody, Wyoming.

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