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Waltzing Cowboys Paperback – January 1, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
I read Waltzing Cowboys with a great deal of pleasure. The writing is alive . . . sense of place is excellent, and . . . for all its dark side, it is, finally, a happy story about good people, unusual in this day and age. Unflinching, yet positive. --George Garrett, Novelist, Former Chair UVA English Dept, Former VA Poet Laureate
White Lies is a brilliant debut by a fine new novelist, a rare gem - a superbly written tale that deals with the sorts of things that matter most in life - such as love and family - and also with such great and timeless themes as tragedy and triumph; character strengths and failings; duty, honor and integrity; and courage in the face of adversity. Sarah Collins Honenberger is a gifted storyteller, a master of nuance who knows how to move you deeply; how to lift your heart; how to grab your attention and hold it. -----Copley News Service
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
My most recent signing featured seven authors, too many to engage the reciprocal ploy without depleting my bank account even if my purchases generated any sales of mine. I bought one book, figuring it might start a rush to my table. It didn't, although I managed to sell one to a walk-in customer.
Deciding which book to buy was the rub. Cramped for space in the small store, I was positioned on the second-floor landing between two "Jessica Fletchers" who'd already each published several dozen of the kind of mysteries known as "cozies," which are distinguished from "hard boiled" mysteries at first sight by their titles and cover art suggesting a dearth of on-page violence. I wasn't in the market for a cozy. A third author, one of the four on the ground floor, was also peddling cozies.
I should note that had any of the three cozy authors bought one or both of my books I'd have reciprocated. It's the way I roll. But they didn't so I rolled on by. Two of the others had books I'd bought the previous year. This left Sarah Collins Honenberger. I almost rolled by her, too, as her books looked literary and I rarely buy literary without a proper introduction.
Yet, here we were, standing near one another in a small bookstore with her three novels arranged unpretentiously on a small table. She seemed relaxed and friendly. I politely asked her about her books and she talked about them enthusiastically but without any huckster's hype. Her sales savvy nonetheless zeroed in on the book she sensed most interested me--Waltzing Cowboys. I thought at first it might be a Brokeback Mountain-type story, but I didn't say this. She told me it was about an old cowboy who goes to New York to find the son he'd abandoned decades earlier.
Possibly without realizing it, although I suspect she sensed this somehow, too, she mentioned she saw the story as perfect for a movie starring my favorite actor.
"A friend of mine in L.A. knows Robert socially. I'm hoping she'll show it to him." She tried to restrain the excitement in her voice, but I picked up on it. It blossomed full blown when she saw she'd struck pay dirt with me.
I finished the book last night. A good read. Literary, oh yes, but a fascinating story and well-crafted, leaving me hungry for what takes place after the book ends. I'd buy the sequel in a New York minute. And, yes, Honenberger was right, Waltzing Cowboys is perfect for Robert Duvall.
So who does the waltzing? Would this be a movie Donald Trump might find excuses to avoid--or attend wearing an elaborate disguise, were that even possible? Perhaps the latter should the Orange One's, um, curiosity be aroused by the thought of the delicate dance cowboys and untamed horses do before they feel comfortable with each other. This occurs in beautifully intimate detail in the first chapter, which Honenberger had entered in a short story contest several years earlier, winning first place.
"Rhue's prairie dance with Delilah stood on its own as a story until [the cowboy's] past in New York City rose up like a ghostly mourner from Vince's funeral and begged me to explore Ford's life without a father," she writes in the book's acknowledgments. Waltzing Cowboys was the thoughtful, literary and deeply entertaining result.
I've never ridden a horse, nor even really wanted to. Yet Sarah brings me alongside her aging cowboy, Rhue, and I hold my breath, trying to keep silent, as he stretches out his hand to the palomino. I want to feel that soft breath in my own palm, and I keep my eyes almost closed as I read, so as not to disturb her.
There's a theme established in that first chapter and the rest of the novel stays true to it, eventually coming full circle with Rhue re-entering the broken relationship of his past. I hold my breath again.
Rhue's story is interwoven with that of his grown-up son. Rhue's love is seen through the eyes of a fascinating cast of characters, looking back on their own families' pain. And Rhue's quest becomes a journey as full of pitfalls as an old man's stumbling in a crooked pasture.
There were places where the coincidences seemed a little too contrived in this story, but their contrivance contributed to a beautiful picture---New York as wonderful as the Montana plains---and each new event became part of an intricate dance. Full of glorious images and people and phrases, this book was a waltz with my own soul, through the footsteps of another, and I really enjoyed it.
The author has a near-perfect pitch for popular fiction. The characters are just different, just marginal enough to be interesting; yet at the same time, just familiar enough for readers to relate to. Dialogue is crisp and informative, occasionally catchy. Narrative is skillfully woven with frequent touches of poetry. The characters, their situations, their emotions, and their behavior are all basically rooted in the world as experienced by ordinary persons.
The popular novel goes does as easily as watching a TV movie. In fact, "Waltzing Cowboys" is such that maybe one day one will see it as a movie.