The Ruins of Rough and Ready
In the 1850s the United States was in a period of extreme transition. It had just doubled in size and vast fortunes were being made quickly by people of limited means mining for gold. The Gold Rush town of Rough & Ready, California, briefly seceded from the United States in order to avoid paying a new federal mining tax. The book lovingly reimagines the three months when it was a sovereign republic.
The Ruins of Rough and Ready, the outstanding new book by Clark Casey, presents a humorous retelling of the American West. This is not your typical western, with the man in white and the villain in the black hat meeting for a climactic confrontation. All the stereotypes of the genre are missing and what you get instead is the far more compelling and entertaining story of ordinary people trying desperately to hit it rich.
Yes, there are the more common dimensions of the tried and true westerns, gunfights, bare-boned exteriors, and model images of old-world masculinity. But this adventure feels more universal, these are people you know, they are seeking what we all are seeking in each era. They are an oddball grouping of people that perfectly encapsulate that period of American life. Poor and limited individuals who in the end, manage to happily settle into a wonderful community, that holds itself separate from the rest of humanity.
In complete earnestness, this book has flashes of Twain’s Roughing it, when the American icon travelled extensively throughout the untamed American West during his youth. This book like the before mentioned story doesn’t take itself or its characters too seriously. Page after page, the book contains more laugh-out-loud moments and intriguing characters than many a novel.
The author manages to effortlessly showcase his powers of observation and his keen ability to use metaphors, exaggerations, and lyrical descriptions to paint humorous profiles of all things western and 1800s society. The story always manages to ring true and the humour only compliments the absurdity of life in that time and place.
For a lover of any manner of comedy even just dipping into this book is a rewarding and entertaining experience. As a fan of the Western genre, this book is a frankly a modern milestone of Western fiction. What a joy from start to finish, what a beautifully crafted story about a group of people you’d love to have a drink with.
|White Bird Publications
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