Miles from Nowhere: 2tales from America's Contemporary Frontier

Dayton Duncan, Author Viking Books $22.5 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-83195-1
A perceptive and engaging observer, Duncan ( Out West: An American Journey ) set out in 1990 aboard the GMC Suburban truck he dubbed the Conestoga to describe life in several vast, underpopulated Western counties ``where a land-hungry nation nibbled but lost its normal appetite.'' Duncan is no questing William Least Heat Moon or quirky Ian Frazier, but he ably melds history and reportage: as in the past, the schoolteacher and the rancher are the frontier couple. Although most frontier dwellers approach a cowboy stereotype, Duncan meets New Agers in Colorado's Saguache County; he notes a parallel to the days of the old frontier, when land was also marketed to people on the basis of dreams. Yet he also finds modernity, ``the first commuters' gold rush,'' in Nevada, and regularly tracks the ``irreducible minimum''--establishments a county can't function without--citing hairdressers and video rental stores. He concludes with a reasoned rebuke to the academics who argue that economic, climatic and social distress will depopulate these regions. ``They have overlooked the irreducible minimum,'' he argues, claiming that sparsely settled places may undergo difficult adjustments but will persist. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1993
Release date: 05/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-14-013122-2
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8032-6627-8
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