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McMurtry couldn’t quite set the Bowie knife to the scalp of the Western like Cormac McCarthy did the same year, maybe because he knew those people weren’t grotesque caricatures; they were people he’d known and loved. And when he died last week, he was probably the last person in Archer City who had any connection to those people at all.
Fidelity to place needn’t (and shouldn’t) result in stuckness, a condemnation of ever moving at all. But we must beware falling into that second trap: rejecting roots altogether.
The best stories in the volume offer Cather-esque explorations of the links between place and people. The stories are remarkable for their dense layers, for their social, psychological, and emotional intricacies.
Is only the life of the busy and bustling place, the place of mergers and acquisitions, worthy of story and song and canvas?
There is much wisdom contained in English Pastoral for suffering churches. If the last fifty years have shown that innovation and modernization aren’t the solution to our ill-health, they have also made a nostalgic return to yesteryear an impossibility.
Even in the midst of this sad era of cold, objective ambition, the possibility of grateful participation in the cosmic life of creation remains for each of us.
There are second chances for some of us, but even second chances bring new losses. For me, it is the grace and hope of these stories and others like them in the work of Berry and Berger that has earned them pride of place on my shelves and in my life.