cover image Owning It All: Essays

Owning It All: Essays

William Kittredge. Graywolf Press, $12 (182pp) ISBN 978-0-915308-96-5

This is an illustrative and insightful collection of essays on the American West (originally appearing in various magazines) by a man who grew up on a ranch in Oregon and at the age of 33, disillusioned and dissatisfied, left agriculture and turned to writing. Autobiographical sketches describe his early years in the isolated community and are full of rodeo memories and ruminations on his buckaroo days. Other essays consider the boom-town phenomenon, the ""redneck,'' the grizzly bear, the renaissance in native American art. Most notably, the author offers a critique of the popular view of the Westwhich is, according to Kittredge, a disguised mythology of conquest and possession that historically has served as a rationale for violence but which seems to be losing its power. He also notes the deleterious affect of this mythology on agriculture, where the concept of conquest has resulted in a ``dream gone wrong'' and the destruction of the landscape in favor of the ``factory-land.'' Kittredge stands valiantly at the center of a fledgling regional literature emerging from shattered myths and discarded ideals. (June)