My hand landed on "Who Owns the West" seemingly by accident. Buddhists say that teachers appear when you are ready - maybe that's what happened here. it's an amazing book that is beautifully written. Kittredge was ahead of his time - writing in 1996 about social and economic dislocations in the west. Though Kittredge was writing about the west and the dislocations from the Native Americans to the loggers, miners and cowboys, and the wreckage of the environment - it is a metaphor for today. I'm left with the same feeling that I had when I read Henry Miller's "Colossus of Maroussi" in the 1960s. "Who Owns the West" is a grand sweep of life and Kittredge is an unusually gifted story-teller and analyst.
In Who Owns the West, William Kittredge takes us on an emotional, often thought provoking ride of his intimate encounters with landscapes, friends, family, and fellow writers of the Western United States. His thoughts and reflections are often framed around what is our relationship with the land and one another. The book spans both the time and distance axes of Kittredge's life. Running from his childhood experiences on the family ranch outside of Klamath Falls, Oregon to his current residence in Missoula. Insights and connections to place come in the expected places and forms (e.g., fellow established writers) to some not so expected such as small, dark taverns frequented by folk who speak their mind and get more passionate with each drink. The author excels at describing a "West" that is unique, personal, and still defining its character. Kittredge writes in closing how each of us embody a story whether we know it or not. A screenplay that is essentially our life...
Best damned read out here in the West in a long time. And it's good stuff.
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