The Homestead

Chilton Williamson, Author Grove/Atlantic $18.95 (289p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1253-8
This gritty tale of the American West by the author of Desert Light concerns a contentious family fighting to retain their power and wealth when threatened by the forces of change. His brother's arrest for attempted murder draws Sam Houston Walker back to Wyoming and a long-delayed reunion with his relatives. His sister, brother, mother and grandfather ricochet off Houston and each other while awaiting the outcome of Jack Walker's attack on an employee of an oil company that is building a plant near the Walker ranch, an action that has focused the anger of Houston's family against the outsiders they feel are corrupting their community. Yet Chuck Richardson, an ``outsider'' attorney, agrees to defend Jack for his own reasons. As he and Houston delve into the family's past, old guilts and new puzzles come to light. Events are conveyed to the reader through shifting points of view among several characters, a device that somewhat fragments the narrative momentum. A Faulkner-derivative stream of consciousness reveals Jack as the semi-articulate cowboy of myth whose purpose in assaulting the oilman is unclear. His sister Clarice is Scarlett O`Hara without the charm, and Houston, none too appealing himself, straddles the gulf between being an outsider of his own stamp and a natural member of the ferociously independent family. Williamson's unsentimental portrait of the new West ends with a fine ironic twist. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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