cover image WOVEN ON THE WIND: Women Write About Friendship in the Sagebrush West

WOVEN ON THE WIND: Women Write About Friendship in the Sagebrush West

, . . Houghton Mifflin, $25 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-395-97708-8

A fine collection of essays, poems and personal narratives about life in "sagebrush country," where friendships must weather numerous hardships, this tough and tender new work continues the collaborative effort begun in Leaning into the Wind (1997). The editors, who all manage working ranches, know firsthand the harsh realities of the American West and the bolstering power of friendship among women there. Indeed, sagebrush is a fitting symbol for women of the West, with its hardy adaptability and fundamental importance to the ecosystem. The editors gracefully present writing by more than 150 women like them. While all celebrate female camaraderie—vividly distinctive against the backdrop of a vast, stark and often lonely terrain—each tells a unique story. Karen Obrigewitch's brief essay "Who Else?" cuts to the heart of this collection: "How can any female survive without close women friends? Whom does she call when she needs affirmation, when her first-born leaves for college, when the calves don't bring enough cash to pay off the bank, or when her parents die? Who would cry with her?" Other contributors include Dorothy Blackcrow Mack on marrying into a Lakota family, Rose Hill about her blind mother crocheting in the dark and Lillian Vilborg on working on a single mother's farm. These stories illuminate the worn paths between farms and ranches and the simple pleasure of sitting on the back of a pickup sharing a cup of tea with a kindred spirit. (May)