Some authors simply embody the essence of a region. Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) is an Oregon writer and one that we should all read. His counter culture novels are memorable and fun to read. But Craig Lesley is the author I feel a real kinship with. His characters and places are not so much the cartoon characters you find in Keseys books. They are they are real people that I have known all my life. He writes like those of us who were raised in the deserts and mountains of Eastern Oregon talked and lived. Not bad but just different. For people that haven’t had the rural experience where life required your attention or snakes would bite you, he is the perfect author. He will help you understand and perhaps appreciate a life different from your own. His web page describes his work in the following way:
“Craig Lesley continually captures the rural humor, rugged characters, and hardscrabble life of the American West, offering through his words a remarkable insight into the landscape of the Western heart.”
When I wrote on Sunday about our trip to Central Oregon, I spoke about the diversity of cultures in the Bend region. There you see everything from Native Americans living on a beautiful reservation near to Madris, Oregon to Southern California transplants sunning on patios in Bend. When you leave Central Oregon and you travel even farther into the East side of the state you find the real American West. This is the part of the world Lesley writes about.
Lesley has written a number of books. Three of his books, Storm Riders, River Song and Winterkill were about the Native Americans living in modern times. I have read the later two and I think they were both compelling and telling novels. The native Americans living in todays culture face challenges that are difficult to understand. Even today they struggle to live in a European world that does not understand the ancient Indian culture and traditions. In order to survive, they must live with the the pressures of modern society. The voices I heard in these books were ones I grew up with. Both are wonderful reads.
The Skyfisherman is set in Eastern Oregon in a mythical town somewhere near the river. It reveals the working mans small town life. It is the story about lost fathers and fishermen. I recommend it highly and will one day probably reread it.
He has two other books out I have not read. Storm Riders (mentioned above) and Burning Fence will be books I must read soon. I had wandered away from Craig Lesley’s books but now I can hardly wait to read more of his writing. I will visit our famous Powell’s Books in downtown Portland. They have the best selection of used books in the universe. I will buy a few books and these will be among them.
I do love talking about books that I love. Hope you don’t mind. Have a great day and when you have time read a great book!