- Publisher: Opal Laurel Holmes Pub (June 1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0686608313
- ISBN-13: 978-0686608318
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,892,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Charlie Bridwell. Vardis Fisher hits on more than just a few uncomfortable truths that make up the fabric of human nature as he details the lives and psyches of the untamed people living on the fringes of a young pioneer society bent on developing itself beyond mouse-laden log cabins and raw frontier lifestyles. This primitive beginning was necessary, they knew, for those who would come before and blaze the trail; but they knew and accepted that they must do much more for their next generation, and that they must sacrifice their own lives entire - in establishing the foundation to make this happen. A thirst for education for their children, a life's dogged goal for improving their farms and ranches into comfortable living areas, self sufficient and productive - all of this is lost upon the people who take center stage of Charlie Bridwell's isolated corner of the same world. He rejects this all as nonsense.
Charlie is content to live for the day; for the bright sunshine and dappled shade; the beauty and splendor of the mountains; serenity of a stress-less being - and one can entirely empathize with him for a moment, without doubt. There is a stark truth in his desire to live life that way - which of course never considers the fact that people grow old. Then, within the next scene laid forth, Mr. Fisher demonstrates what this man's will means to the others around him, and the idea changes dramatically when laid side by side with, for example, his wife, who must live with this shiftless though amiable man; his deliberate manipulation of her mind to create the illusion that she must never leave him because she cannot make it on her own; his children, who see another side of him altogether which includes violence; his stealthy, steady, psychologial working of everyone around him until at last, the tide turns and he can no longer manage any of them - he has lost his control. It, in turn, breaks him - as he felt he had created an invincible lifestyle of dependence on him, preposterous though it is for those of us looking in through the flow of Mr. Fisher's visual pen.
As the story ends, Charlie leaves his mountain sanctuary as he has done everything else, casting it aside because no stable roots were established - in keeping with his philosophy - so in this epilogue that has been long in coming, he has no where to go and no one to go with him, yet it is hard to feel sympathy; Charlie has done it to himself. He has lived solely for his "day" and now that day is done.
Salud, Vardis Fisher - a literary masterpiece emerges in many solitaire forms.
the dry farm areas east of Idaho Falls & Rigby, ID where I was born and raised.I was dismayed to learn that this book is not available at the public library here in Boise and that it is out of print. This book and "Toilers of the Hills" are richly rewarding to any avid reader. Fisher seems to be remembered now only for "Mountain Man" from which the movie, "Jeremiah Johnson" was adapted. He wrote The Mothers", about the Donner Party tragedy & "Tale of Valor" that fills a proper niche now that the Lewis & Clark bicentennial is upon us.
It is descriptive of pioneer life during the early years of the last century. Divided into three parts, it describes the life of the Bridwells from the perspectives of Charley Bridwell, a man for whom idleness had been elevated into an art form, for whom idleness pervaded the core of his being and became a philosophy; his younger son Jed, remote and merciless; and his wife Lela, a child bride who at first acceded to Charley's dreams of living an entire life doing only the bare minimum required for survival but whose latent ambition eventually, explosively, surfaced.
I first encountered Fisher through his books published in 1960 as mass-market paperbacks. I was only thirteen and I read every one I could find, including: the complete Vridar Hunter tetralogy, the Testament of Man, Dark Bridwell and, a few years later, a hardcover, Mountain Man.
Fifty three years later I have gone back to only this book, Dark Bridwell, in an edition published by his wife in 1979. Why? Because Fisher was not even close to the top-ranked writers in the English language. His tetralogy was a verbose, scathing, self-loathing diatribe which was dated even in 1960. His Testament of Man was so flawed as to be almost comic. "Mountain Man" simply bored me. But in Dark Bridwell he came as close to brilliant as he ever would. It is, in parts, lyrical, brutal and hugely funny. It's an excellent juxtaposition of the perspectives of three very different people.
I don't compare Vardis Fisher to anyone. He's certainly not comparable to Hemingway, whom Fisher rightly despised as a child inside an adult body. He's not in the same league as Faulkner, let alone Cormac McCarthy. He was an Idaho guy all his life: "Old Irascible", hard-working, doing his best but only once rising out of middle rank with this book, Dark Bridwell. Well worth your time.