Crossing Purgatory

Gary Schanbacher. . Pegasus (Norton, dist.), $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-60598-443-8
This striking tale, a literary western from Schanbacher (Migration Patterns), chronicles one momentous year in the life of a plainsman on the eve of the American Civil War. The young farmer, Thompson Grey, is stricken with grief and guilt after his wife, Rachel, and two sons, Matthew and Daniel, die from diphtheria while he’s away asking his wealthy planter father, Reverend Matthew Grey, for an advance on his inheritance. Leaving his Indiana homestead in the hopes that “he might outpace his grief,” he joins up in Kansas with Captain John Upperdine, who’s guiding a wagon train that includes the pregnant Hanna Light and her son, Joseph, whom Thompson befriends. He and the Lights elect to accept Upperdine’s invitation to stay a while at his Kansas ranch, also farmed by the colorful Benito Ibarra—a relation of Upperdine’s wife, Genoveva. The ranchers survive a ravenous plague of grasshoppers, Hanna gives birth to a daughter she names Destiny, and Thompson experiments with growing a new variety of wheat. They gut it through the harsh winter before Thompson finally comes to terms with his loss at the climax of Schanbacher’s visceral and triumphant saga of the Old West. Agent: Jennifer Carlson, the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 336 pages - 978-1-4804-1945-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4821-0131-7
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-1-60598-576-3
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4532-9887-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-62460-323-5
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!