John Holt, Author . Lyons $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-58574-780-1

A third-generation rancher goes up against a corporate behemoth in this eloquent if preachy novel by Holt (Montana Fly-Fishing Guide; Coyote Nowhere—In Search of America's Last Frontier). Joe Graves is a self-sufficient loner born on a stormy night in the back of a pick-up truck. For decades, his family has struggled to survive in arid southeastern Montana, becoming intimately acquainted with the land and its fauna. When the nefarious and aptly named Dark Star corporation comes nosing around the Graves property, Joe discovers that his father sold the family's mineral rights before he died, and Dark Star is now interested in strip-mining the ranch for coal. Insult is added to injury when Mickey, the closest thing Joe has to a lover, leaves him for Dark Star's representative. As he battles the corporation seeking to destroy his rural heaven, Joe must also fight his urge to lose control and revenge himself on those who have interrupted his life. He is, as his enemies define him, "on a long-term, slow burn that could ignite at any moment at the slightest provocation." But it is nature that deflects the corporation in the end, erecting a series of incredible obstacles, like spontaneously combusting flora, ferocious storms and irate rattlesnakes. The novel is unashamedly polemical, and Joe's self-righteousness can be grating, but Holt's spare prose and fierce, gritty descriptions of hunting and violent weather rescue his story from one-dimensionality. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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