Thursday, October 21, 2010
John Sinclair, Cowboy Riding Country
Unschooled men of remarkable toughness and skilled at working cattle, especially those who lived through New Mexico's lawless frontier years, they achieve heroic dimension in these pages. Sinclair also writes here of his life as a kind of western H. D. Thoreau, living a young bachelor's life in a mountain cabin west of Roswell, NM.
Meanwhile, he cowboys for enough pay to buy grocieries and essentials (and he remembers the price of everything). There are descriptions here of neighbors and acquaintances, including an old Mexican with a fearful reputation who calls Sinclair "amigo," and a family who asks him to play Santa Claus for their kids with hilarious results.
There are rhapsodic descriptions of New Mexico and nostalgic histories of the ranchers who settled the Pecos River Valley. A resident of Lincoln county, Sinclair devotes many pages to a retelling of Billy the Kid's story. There are ghost sightings from 1906 and recollections of the songs sung by cowboys on the open range,
Eager to share his extensive knowledge of New Mexico and Arizona history, Sinclair writes sometimes at great length. His book is illustrated with many nicely rendered drawings and paintings by artist Edmond Delavy. Sinclair has another memoir, A Cowboy Writer in New Mexico, written when he was ninety. Both are out of print, and shouldn't be.
Coming up: B. F. Day, Gene Rhodes, Cowboy