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The Blind Corral (Contemporary American fiction) Paperback – August 4, 1987

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Army veteran Jack Heckethorn, his father, Smoke, and his grandfather, Harley, are longtime Montana ranchers pitted against greedy real estate developers. In this cautionary tale of the New West, Jack, Smoke, and Harley clearly represent the traditional American values of independence and love of the land. Montana is the center of the narrative focusthe state capital of Helena, the mining town of Butte, the Heckethorn ranch and timber land, etc. Reminiscent of E.M. Swift's Wyoming-set, anti-strip mining novel, Each Thief Passing By , Beer's first novel is both well written and socially aware of the dangers besetting the fragile ecology of the West. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries west of the Mississippi and a worthy purchase for libraries elsewhere. James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 4, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140102655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140102659
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,059,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I had no expectations when I picked up this novel, except that I'd read a nonfiction piece by the author, a Montana writer, enjoyed his point of view, and marveled at his gift of language. As a novelist, he offers up a story and characters that are vivid and real, and the language that describes their world is close to poetry. There's a wonderful precision in the detail and the word choice that makes you just slow down and relish each sentence as it evokes the experience of being alive under this big sky through the roll of the seasons.

The story is told through the perspective of a young man returning home to his father and grandfather, outside Helena, Montana. He's had some hard luck, an accident on a firing range that has put him in a military hospital, and before that a rodeo career that has gone nowhere. The stopover is meant to be temporary, but like wild horses drawn unwittingly into the blind corral of the title, he is unable to leave, spending a bitter winter with his dying grandfather, an aging rancher, instead of returning to Canada as planned and a woman he has taken up with.

There is an aching melancholy throughout the novel that fills the scenes with a sense of loss. The ranchland, which no longer supports the cattle business, is being bought up by developers. The generation that grew up there and made a living from it, through good years and bad, is now passing on. They have little to leave their descendants but the land itself, worth little more than what it can be sold for. And there is irony in how losing the land mirrors the same loss by the Indians who preceded them a century earlier.

But it's also a personal story, of the young hero's return from adventures that have left him empty and without direction.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Petithall on March 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this more than a decade ago, and have never forgotten it. It's a beautifully written novel about what one must lose to retain a traditional life in America. Find it, buy it, read it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gman on September 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read it ten or twelve years ago, never forgot it. In recommending it to a good friend whose cutting horses are using horses on his own ranch, I began to remember, and relish, the poetic language and rhythm of this remarkable book. So, I'll dig it out and read it for perhaps the 5th time. McGuane, Didion, McCarthy and Ralph Beer. Hall of famers in my opinion. And, tonight, when I feed and fly-spray my own horses, I will see them, my dogs and the land in a little different light. A bit more appreciative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on May 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A couple months ago I had never heard of Ralph Beer. Now I have read both of his books - one non-fiction collection of essays (In These Hills) and this novel, The Blind Corral. And I wish there were more. It seems like such a tiny output for such a hugely talented writer. Beer writes about the vanishing West, Montana in particular, in a way that simply tugs at your heartstrings as he describes a few small-time ranchers who are trying desperately to hang onto a world they love. They are trapped by a world they cannot understand. "And what had trapped them was so simple, so clear. Change. Change accelerating beyond their wildest dreams ..."

In addition to the beautiful prose, I was delighted to recognize a secondary character in The Blind Corral. It was a very thinly disguised version of writer James Crumley, rendered here as a hard-drinking writer named Duncan Carlisle. Beer even references a Crumley PI novel, calling it The Wrong Ace (vs its real title, The Wrong Case). It's a tip of the hat from one writer to another, made that much more poignant to me, knowing that Crumley died in September 2008. This books was written in 1986.

Otherwise I just don't know what else to say. This is simply a beautiful book, an eloquent elegy to a West that is nearly gone. I wish it weren't true, but ... Thanks for the memories, Ralph, and I hope you are still writing and we can look for another book soon. - Tim Bazzett, author of SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA
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