ACROSS OPEN GROUND
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.
Across Open Ground