As the young Spragg undergoes the inexorable rites of passage that forge the heart and soul of man, he channels Peter Matthiessen and the novels of Ernest Hemingway in his truly unforgettable illuminations of the heartfelt yearnings, the unexpected wisdom, and the irrevocable truths that follow in his wake.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.26(w) x 10.98(h) x 0.83(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Date of Birth:March 20, 1952
Place of Birth:Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A. in English, University of Wyoming, 1974
Read an Excerpt
I don't know why I've come awake. I listen for horses. I do not hear their bells, their steps on the frost-stiffened ground. I listen harder. I listen for a bear. I listen for the huffs, snorts, the coughing of a bear come into camp. There is only the deep silence of the night. I imagine a bear standing quietly by the side of my tent. A grizzly. Waiting. Aware of me. The thought of a bear thrills like a horror film escaped from its theater. My own murder stands vividly in my imagination. The dark night grinds down hard. I imagine a bear's small, dark eyes watering and intent in the cold air. I imagine a bear's nostrils flexing, breathing in my scent, its gut grumbling, whining for the taste of me. I think of a bear's teeth, its claws. I listen for the clicking of teeth. I think of the thick, dish-shaped skull--the brain inside that skull anxious for extra prehibernation calories. I pinch my chest, the back of an arm. My body seems soft as lard. I think of myself as food. I pull my woolen watch cap more tightly against my head--over my ears and eyes--and curl my face into the throat of my sleeping bag. I am wearing long underwear--top and bottom--and socks. My jeans and shirt are rolled against my feet at the bottom of the bag. I breathe in the warm, familiar scents of my body and stained clothing--a mixture of woodsmoke, leather, and horse. I think again of the thin canvas wall of the tent. It is black inside. It is black outside. If a hungry bear stands in that blackness the smell of me could draw it against the tent wall. I think of a grizzly's nose pressed against the tent. I think of its mouth watering, scrims of thinning drool sheeting from its black lips. I pull my knees into my chest and flex and imagine my body as unalterable as a knot of steel. I nearly laugh. I've become too old for bullshit fantasies of invincibility. I am now sixteen. I know that if a bear wants me for a meal it can open and spill me as effortlessly as an actual can of beans.
Excerpted from "Where Rivers Change Direction"
Copyright © 2000 Mark Spragg.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
“A vivid portrait of life in the American outback.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“A discovery… what makes the book so affecting is that everything is approached with a boy’s generous and unwearied heart.” –Big Sky Journal
“The cruel, punishing sound of the wind; the rich, earthy smell of horses; the bitter joy of boy becoming man—Spragg’s spare but sensual essays will resonate not only with males and horse lovers, but also with anyone who treasures an examined life.” –Utne Reader
“A piercing voice from the heartland, this resonant autobiography weds the venerable Western tradition of frontier exploration of self and nature with the masculine school of writing stretching from Hemingway to Mailer.” –Publishers Weekly
"This is a book that deserves many readers." –Larry McMurty
"Here is a book for women to read to learn the hearts of men. Here is a book for men to read to curse what they have lost. This soulful book walks us to a place of restoration through the big wide open of Wyoming. Mark Spragg's words, his stories are a fine example of blood writing, every sentence alive." –Terry Tempest Williams
"Stirring, evocative, finely nuanced, gritty-marvelous!" –Gretel Ehrlich, author of The Solace of Open Spaces