The Basque Hotel

Robert Laxalt, Author University of Nevada Press $18.95 (124p) ISBN 978-0-87417-145-7
Pete is a boy growing up during the Depression in Carson City, Nev., where his immigrant father, once a sheep rancher in the Basque hills, runs a small hotel and bootlegs whiskey to his customers. When Prohibition agents close in, his proud father sets one of the men down on a hot stove. Soon the family sells the hotel and moves six blocks away to the ``high-toned'' part of town, where they face discrimination. This short, beautifully written, semiautobiographical novel is a small gem, a perfect example of a childhood tranquilly recollected. A bout of rheumatic fever, which nearly leaves Pete an invalid, a painfully funny early sexual encounter and his relationships with five siblings, a dour father and a resentful, firm-jawed mother are among his formative experiences. Carson City has its colorful and eccentric townies: a natty handyman, an old prospector, a drunk, a cowboy, a near lunatic--but the arrival of desperate Okies gives the novel a sharp edge. Laxalt ( Sweet Promised Land ) is a rare find, a totally genuine, unaffected voice. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-0-87417-216-4
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