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The Meadow
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0805016848
ISBN-13: 9780805016840
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Release Date: April, 1992
Length: 230 Pages
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Dimensions: 8.4 X 5.6 X 1 inches
Language: English

The Meadow

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An American Library Association Notable BookIn discrete disclosures joined with the intricacy of a spider's web, James Galvin depicts the hundred-year history of a meadow in the arid mountains of the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are the...
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Customer Reviews

  Wore this book out.

I read The Meadow. Read it again. Skipped to some of my favorite sections. Read them. Read the whole thing over again. Loaned it to my mother. She read it. Handed it to my father. He read it. My mother took it to her book club. Four members of the book club read it. I took it to work. Three coworkers read it. The book finally fell apart. So I bought a new copy. The images of life on the Meadow will undoubtedly stay with me for ages.
  A wonderful picture of what the land means to us.

Galvin uses a kind of stream of consciousness, though instead of being inside a character's mind, the reader is tied to the land. Once the structure becomes apparent, one follows the author's meanderings back and forth through the history and people who've lived on or passed through the meadow. Using powerful imagery and compelling people, Galvin shows how we in the West feel about our area. A sense of place is the focal point for many of our lives. Those who can live "just anywhere there's a job" won't understand, but for those who identify with the land in the West , it's an unforgettable work.
  Painfully Real

Galvin captures the feeling of third and fourth generation ranch people. Those looking for a narrative such as found in so many chronicles of the settling of the west may be dissapointed. I was raised with my brothers Frank, a character in the book, and Charlie about twenty five miles east of the "meadow" as the crow flies and also on the Colorado-Wyoming state line. Frank, a fountain of common sense, but not nearly as philosophical as Galvin, shared his passion for the meadow and its environs as do all who were brought under its spell some time during their lives. None of us could have put it into words and we are thankful James did. The style is difficult even for those who know the area and characters, but it is exactly appropriate for the task at hand.

I was absolutely stunned by the superb story telling and the poetic quality of the well-crafted prose in James Galvin's _The Meadow_. This is *literature.* So if you have literary tastes and an interest in the American west, there is absolutely no doubt that you will enjoy this wonderful book.

The realism of rural life in the mountains is combined with haunting personal stories that keep you reading. The author has a genuine empathy for nature and for the individual people who have the stamina to survive in a harsh environment. Highly recommended.

  A story of harsh extremities and stark beauty

This is a book to savor. Its chapters fall somewhere between vignettes and prose poems, and reading the book is like leafing through an album of old photographs. The storyline is made up of the threads of connections to be made between each of the word-pictures. The book itself seems to be neither fiction nor nonfiction. Galvin refers to himself and his family in some of the chapters, but the person at the center of the book is a neighbor, Lyle Van Waning, who has spent most of his life living near the meadow of the book's title, in the high elevations between Laramie, Wyoming, and Ft. Collins, Colorado.

By today's standards of urban comforts and conveniences (many of which have found their way into lives of people who live far from the city), Lyle lives a kind of pioneer existence, isolated much of the year by deep snow, living by his skills as a carpenter and builder, and the proceeds of hay harvested from his meadow, and spending the time when he can do neither of these in his shop making machinery parts, carved wooden boxes, firearms, and whatever else captures his fascination. He is an immensely private and self-sufficient man, who never marries and seems to hold in his heart the strongest connection with a dead sister who committed suicide. (A painting by Clara Van Waning appears on the cover of the book.) Galvin captures in Lyle the kind of fiercely independent spirit that made survivors of those who first settled and thrived in the American wilderness.

There are other men and women associated with the meadow. And their stories are also told, including App Worster and his son Ray, whose family owns the meadow before the Van Wanings, and who lose it during the Depression. We also learn something of a neighboring rancher Frank Lilley, who is dying of cancer, and whose family continues to keep his ranch going. There's also Ferris, who tries the frontier patience of his neighbors to the breaking point by dumping truckloads of old appliances on his property and denuding his small pasture with over-grazing.

"The Meadow" is told with wonderful precision, a photographic attention to details, and a deep feeling for a kind of life that survives in spite of isolation and often hostile elements. While Galvin does not romanticize the lives of his characters, he does celebrate them. There's a deep attachment in this book to the region that is his home, the landscape and changing seasons, and the people who have put down roots there. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the West and the lives of those who have adapted to its harsh extremities and cherished its stark beauty. As a companion, I would recommend Mark Spragg's "Where Rivers Change Direction," an account of growing up in northwest Wyoming.