By Bernard Schopen
After publishing The Iris Deception, the final of his three Jack Ross detective novels, in 1996, Bernard Schopen’s literary voice went quiet. Nearly two decades later that voice makes a distinctive return with Calamity Jane, a novel that takes a hard look at the realities of rural and ranching Nevada while also examining the enduring myths of the West.
Calamity Jane is not a detective novel, but there are mysteries here and fans of Schopen will recognize connections to his earlier work. Set somewhere in the arid basin and range wilds east of Reno and north of Las Vegas, Calamity Jane is told through the private journal of retired high school English teacher Winnifred Westrom, long-time resident of Blue Lake and a keen observer with a stake in the story.
This is grown-up fiction, asking serious questions about the fate and future of the West and exploring ideas as big as the Great Basin it inhabits. At the same time, it is storytelling worthy of the Western movies and pulp fictions it admires. Bernard Schopen in Calamity Jane is an old dog up to new tricks.
A great novel of the American West both wildly entertaining and wise. An exploration of the old and new colliding and the chaos of disruption and drama that ensues.
Schopen expertly weaves together the lives of characters as complex, damaged, and changeable as the Nevada landscape they inhabit. Motives and memories collide in a story that itself questions the perpetual search for grand and mythic narratives in the contours of the American West.
Its theme deeply understood by its lyrical author, Calamity Jane is a brilliant homage to the ethos of “Out Here” (the REAL West), as compared to the “Out There” version of the Wild West. Schopen has created a complex, many-layered story of ranching families in the Nevada desert trying to survive from year to year, meeting the land on its terms, and bruising through their lives. A definite read for anyone who cares about such things, and even if they don’t.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernard Schopen was born and raised in Deadwood, South Dakota. He attended the University of Washington and the University of Nevada, Reno where upon receiving his Ph.D. in English he taught for many years. He is the author of three Jack Ross novels, as well as a study of the novels of Ross McDonald.
ISBN: (paper) 9781936097050
Size: 5.5″ x 8.5″, 270 pp.
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Retail Price: $16.95