The Willow Field

William Kittredge

This is the sprawling, multi-generational saga of Rossie Benasco, a half-Basque, 15-year-old Reno kid who decides in 1933 to opt for horses rather than high school on a vast Nevada empire ranch beyond Winnemucca. He joins up to drive 200 horses from Eagleville to Calgary, where he meets pregnant Eliza Stevenson—the love of his life. They set about figuring out who they were meant to be against the sweep of the 20th century—the Great Depression through JFK’s assassination. Kittredge’s prose, raw and densely lyrical, evokes both land and characters you actually care about in a push-pull assaying of the forces that draw people together in solaced confines of the American West. Their lives suggest that imperatives of destiny, ambition, family and responsibility are not as codified as we think.