Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Time It Never Rained - Book Review

Elmer Kelton's The Time It Never Rained made it to the top of several conservative must-read books of fiction and for good reason: it's the story of a stubborn Texas cattle rancher who refuses government help during a long drought and how he manages to endure through his own hard work and wits. Couldn't be any more conservative that.

I've praised Kelton before and there's no reason to find fault with him with this book - I could've used a little more description of the landscapes and weather but that seems to be a running fault for me for writers. Kelton's characters are well-drawn and their personal dramas make for compelling reading. The problems with illegal immigrants - his hero won't hire illegals nor will he turn them in to the authorities or turn them away if they come looking for a meal - is surprisingly modern and I learned much about cattle ranching in the drought-prone portion of Texas in which this story is set. Kelton is good enough to be compared to Steinbeck, I think, and if he hadn't've been known for his genre work, and if this book's politics had been different, he would have enjoyed a higher stature with mainstream critics. As if that's something to be desired.

(I finished this during our Florida vacation. Odd to be reading about the dusty plains with the tang of the ocean in your mouth and the sound of the surf in your ears.)

No comments:

Post a Comment