Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 7, 2006
Warmer out this morning, rode up Old Stage Road on my bicycle without a jacket. Beautiful sun-tipped saguaros peeking over the ridge below Sugarloaf. And speaking of apt descriptions of nature, I just finished an excellent book last night.

Last month, at the Cave Creek Wild West Days, we had a book sale and were unloading boxes of old books for a dollar each. At the end of the day, as we were loading up the ones that didn't sell, Marshall Trimble pointed at a non-descript, haggard looking book jacket on the table and said, "That's one of the best books I've ever read." I picked it up and it had one of those lame 1950s type titles: "The Conquest of Don Pedro" and I looked at it, then at Marshall, and said, "Are you serious?"

Marshal shook his head andl told me the book "is a classic" and really impacted him, but added, "watch out for the ending." I had never heard of the author, Harvey Fergusson, who sounds more like a tractor salesman than a writer. I picked it out of the junk pile and took it home and it sat on the night stand for about a week and one night I finally got a few minutes and opened it up. It started slow and has an odd protagonist (a jewish peddler), but the setting, on the Rio Grande in New Mexico after the Civil War was instantly riveting to me, and I soon fell under the spell of the book. I'll post some of the eloquent passages later, but I must second Marshall's rave review. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the Southwest and vaguero culture. And, one of the punchlines to the book is the tragic Salt War, which my good friend Paul Cool is publishing a book on next year, and he's asked me to do illustrations for it. Oh, the serendipity!

And speaking of New Mexico and one of the minor characters in the book, here's an unfinished painting I found over the weekend of a certain boy outlaw getting a "Spanish Kiss." Has potential (which ironically is how several teachers described me on my failing report cards)

This morning, Robert Ray walked me through the layouts for CGIII (Classic Gunfights, Volume III). Going to be the best one yet. Man, Gus, Robert and I put in the hours on these damn fights. The attention to detail in the Mapinator maps alone is worth the price of admission. We have worked so hard, for so long (seven years!) on these fights, I sometimes forget just how much work went into them.

"Who wants to read about success? It is the early struggle which makes a good story."
—Katherine Anne Porter

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