A poet’s novel of the San Luis Valley

  • Rise, Do Not Be Afaid

 

Entering Colorado poet Aaron Abeyta’s first novel, Rise, Do Not Be Afraid, is like visiting a world that no longer exists — if it ever did. Santa Rita, the mythical Western town that forms the subject of this short, dense novel, is a place reminiscent of Eden, both before and after the Fall. One is reminded of Gabriel García Márquez’s fictional Colombian town, Macondo, as Abeyta creates a culture in a specific place and witnesses its dissolution — from greed, abandonment, the withering of love. Like García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Abeyta begins with an annotated cast of characters, for it’s easy to confuse the people in this novel. Abeyta moves through time and generations as if through memory: “That was 1926,” when the fences were built, we are told in the same paragraph in which we have traveled even further back to the arrival of the treacherous Matthews family in 1878.

“Santa Rita sat in a long and deep canyon cut by an ancient river of ice, now melted to a river that flowed east toward the Rio Grande. There was no TV reception in Santa Rita. Most news traveled like it always had, by word of mouth.”

Author of the poetry collections colcha and as orion falls, Abeyta has written a novel that reads like narrative poetry, epic in subject, biblical in implication. Epigraphs from the Gospel of Luke begin most of the chapters, all unnumbered. “He Viewed the Town and Wept Over It” (Luke 19:41) commences with “Nineteen fifty-five was the last good year. Ponce sold in 1926, but the devil did not come into Santa Rita until New Year’s Eve, 1955.” Into this high desert paradise, the devil walks. He marries Malinche Santistevan-Matthews, lifelong beloved of Aresando, a damaged veteran. Love stories underlie the main narrative charting the rise and fall of Santa Rita, but the most compelling feature of Abeyta’s novel is the prose itself. Suffused with Spanish, it sings and mourns throughout.

“There in the sombra of the bosque he saw Rafael’s piano, he saw his tia Adelaida’s abandoned house beneath a bent cottonwood, Nonnatusia standing in a field of clover and brome, lirios purpling around her. ...”

Abeyta informs us: “It’s not true what they say: we are not made of bone and blood. Humans, all of us, are made of choices.”

Rise, Do Not Be Afraid
Aaron Abeyta
172 pages, softcover: $15.95.
Ghost Road Press, 2007.

High Country News Classifieds
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • PLANNING & BUILDING DIRECTOR
    Searching for candidates with a Bachelor's Degree in Planning, Community Development, or a related field with 7 years' experience in land use planning forums, including...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • NEWS DIRECTOR
    Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...