Friday, April 13, 2012


By Conrad Richter (From Under the Gables.)
In 1928 the American author Conrad Richter and his family pulled up stakes and moved from eastern Pennsylvania to New Mexico in the hopes of improving his wife's health. Transplanted to totally unfamiliar territory, he set about to unearth the stories of the families who had settled there, digested old diaries and letters, and gleaned all he could from the local library on the history of the region and how the lives of its settlers and their descendants had changed over time. The most famous result of this work is his Sea of Grass, published in 1937, which centers on the conflict between cattle ranchers and homesteaders and the characters of both. But his first output from his yarn gathering was his collection of nine short stories, Early Americana.

Many of these stories revolve around the coming together of a young man and woman in marriage carve their place in the vast prairies west of Saint Louis, but the romance is always understated, if made explicit at all. Lives travel tracks that bring them together and the rest is assumed--except that the land and the difficulties of settling it present nearly insurmountable obstacles that are unimaginable today but that come to life under Richter's pen: gunfights on a betrothal night, drought that kills the cattle herd a young man had built up so he could marry, Indian attacks that destroy a young man's family. (Read entire post.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

Sounds like Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House On The Praire" series!