Looking forward, looking back

  • The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays

    GRAYWOLF PRESS
 

William Kittredge is a man peculiarly suited to write about the West. He comes from a family that used the land as Westerners did long ago, before everything began to run out. The son of a rancher in southeastern Oregon, Kittredge grew into his father's job, tried to manage the land and the men, and at 33 gave it all up and headed off to Iowa to study creative writing. He's lived ever since in Montana, where he taught writing for many years, and, if this book is anything to go by, hung around in taverns a lot. 

In these essays, which entwine his personal history with the history of Western expansion, Kittredge takes pains to understand his father. He also looks hard at what we've lost because of men like his father, who, he writes "got his hands on a paradise of waterbirds and fertility, and ... remade it into what he understood as useful, a sprawling system of irrigation and drainage canals and agribusiness fields." He writes beautifully of the resulting losses, as in this passage, where he's driving along the Salmon River, thinking about disappeared salmon and massacred grizzly bears. "In wintertime moonlight, the icy Sawtooth Range was aglow under a swirling sky. I contemplated the serious, classical, fool-making mysteries. How to proceed? Can it be true we suffer from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy on earth?" 

Kittredge seems less than entirely sanguine about the future of the West. On the other hand, he's not moving away. He often describes the people in his world as "two-hearted." They look both forward and backward; they're optimistic and despairing. Kittredge's genius lies in his ability to hold the old West and the new West simultaneously in his mind. 

If you're a longtime Kittredge fan and you're feeling tight on cash, you probably don't need to own this book; many of these essays have appeared in other collections. But if you've never read this two-hearted writer, you can't afford not to buy it. 

 

The author writes about culture for the New York Times and other publications, and lives in Boulder, Colorado.

 

 

The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays

William Kittredge

256 pages, softcover: $15.

Graywolf Press, 2007.
High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY RADIO PROJECT
    Community Radio Project, Cortez, CO (KSJD & the Sunflower Theatre). Visit ksjd.org and click on the Executive Director search link. CRP is an EOE.