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The Last Shepherd (WEST WORD FICTION) Paperback – November 6, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* With all the wit and insight of Sherman Alexie or Jonathan Safran Foer, Etchart deepens the coming-of-age genre with this novel about 20-year-old Mathieu Etchiberri, a young man who feels as if he’s been raised by aliens. Turns out he has. Mathieu lives on an Arizona mountainside sheep ranch with his father, grandfather, and great-uncle, all Basque immigrants. Immigrants with such deep roots in their home country that Mathieu, a thoroughly acculturated American via school and neighbors, just doesn’t get them. Worse, he resents them, especially his father, who insists that Mathieu stay on the ranch instead of leaving home to attend the state university. A sudden twist of fate seems to erase any chance of the future he desires. His father is killed in a car accident, and his son becomes responsible for the ranch. Then another surprising turn of events forces Mathieu to travel to his ancestral home, deep in French Basque country, to save the ranch and save himself from his own immaturity. This is a fine, charming, terrific story about a fascinating culture, and the value of family and knowing where they—and thus you—come from. --Donna Chavez

Review

“This is a beautiful and compelling novel. Its focus on Basque culture, while compelling and authoritative and interesting in itself, also serves as a thematic underpinning for the larger questions that concern the novel. The writing is beautiful throughout, evocative of landscape and weather and animal life. One of the best novels I have read in several years.” -- Mary Clearman Blew, author of Jackalope Dreams


"Etchart's novel should be regarded as a major contribution to contemporary western US literature and recent Basque American writing." -- Western American Literature


The Last Shepherd is a unique coming of age tale that shouldn’t be overlooked, much recommended.”—The Midwest Book Review
 
(The Midwest Book Review)
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Product Details

  • Series: WEST WORD FICTION
  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press; 1 edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087417886X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874178869
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I could give this beautiful, lyrical book 10 stars. A wonderful story, eloquently written from the heart. I originally borrowed this book from the library, but bought it immediately after finishing it, because I know this is one I will read again with joy. The words, the story, the length, even the cover are all perfect. It is refreshing to read a book that makes you want more.
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Format: Paperback
I have never written a review before, but was so moved and inspired by this book that I felt compelled to do so. The author's descriptive writing and symbolism was beautifully accomplished. I could see the sunrise, hear the the tinkling of a bell and feel the anxiety of dangling over a precipice. The life message that Mathieu received from his Basque grandfather was rich and powerful as was his journey to discover the complexities of listening to one's heart.
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Format: Paperback
This was for me and will be for you, a VERY difficult book to read, unless of course you are of Basque heritage, as is one of the reviewers above. For me, The Last Shepherd suffers in the same way as does all "creative writing". In general, I find the approach of the schools of "creative writing" to be what I think of as "Fly Speck Prose". They think "good" writing carefully examines every fly speck on the windshield of life, and that takes words, words, words. It gets tedious.

More specifically, there are Basque words sprinkled liberally throughout. After the protagonist gets to the Basque country, it seems more natural and more tolerable, but in the first part of the book, it's oppressive. I gave it up after 50 or 60 pages, but then I read the two 5-star-shill-grams above, and decided to continue.

The whole book is sprinkled with Basque words, like black pepper on mashed potatoes. The whole book is also sprinkled, perhaps like red pepper on mashed potatoes, with bad grammar, enough so to be terribly distracting. The author has a serious 'had' problem. (I wrote to the author, twice, trying to get a fix on his misuse of 'had', but he did not reply. He is a professor at Phoenix College, so maybe he'll get around to it. Professors have time to write books and reply to sincere queries from readers and students, of which I am both.)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Etchart has done another superb job in capturing the experience of growing up in a Basque family in America. His characters are superb and very realistic. A must read for anyone interested in the Basque culture. Milesker Martin!!
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We are Basque and have parents and grand parents that came from both the French and Spanish side of the Basque country (Euskadi). It is well done.
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