Gillian Flynn
June 07, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Across Open Ground

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Heather Parkinson
publisher
Bloomsbury
genre
Fiction

We gave it an B

The laconic man of the West, making his living off the land: He’s not a fresh character in American literature, but Walter Pascoe is at least an intriguing addition to the ranks. The 17-year-old sheepherder is flush with awkwardness and yearning: to prove himself, to become a man, to get the girl, a lively trapper named Trina. It being 1917, he’ll soon have to reckon with a faraway World War. Parkinson’s writing alternates between the strikingly spare and the obsessively busy: Clipped dialogue from reticent characters — people who rarely say exactly what they mean — gives way to Cold Mountainous descriptions of shepherding and lambing. Sure, we’ve gone down this road before, but Parkinson makes a very skillful guide.

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