A classic novel about a cowboy, Burns, and his horse, Whisky, moving through the mid-twentieth century Albuquerque area. His out-dated values (loyalty, independence, skill, grit) inevitable clash with the modern values of progress (growth, complexity, conformity) as he comes to the city with a plan to break his good friend out of jail. Abbey explores themes of nostalgia, honor, self determination, and ultimately of loss. While this is one of his earlier novels, Abbey is still a skilled storyteller using tight plot lines, compelling prose, and a keen eye for detail. The ending is abrupt, unpredictable, and deeply affective.
I first read and loved this novel in my early 20s (some 30 years ago now) and it was delightful to read it again at this stage in my life. I see Abbey as a man of his time, some of his assumptions (particularly about other groups of people) are cringe-worthy now but so many of his larger ideas and philosophies are still surprising and deeply relevant today. Abbey may infuriate, challenge, or inspire but he is never boring!
The movie "Lonely Are The Brave", starring Kirk Douglas", was derived from this book. Walter Mattaur played the sheriff
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