Decades later, nearing the end of his days and haunted by a legend he never intended to incite, Roper uses a series of interviews with the Works Progress Administration’s Folklore Project to set the record straight. He wasn’t a hero, he maintains — just a naïve cowpuncher flush with the reckless passion of youth. Looking back with insight gained from time and distance, he’s amazed he survived.
Fast-paced, compelling throughout, and emotionally savage in spots, City of Rocks spins a Homerian epic in the first person. Gritty, violent, and intensely personal, the book wrenches readers through a coming-of-age story that leaves even casual bystanders immutably changed at the end.
Author Michael Zimmer’s evocative prose envelops the tale like the frigid winter blankets the Idaho mountains, jerking readers out of the experience only in the spots where profanity is cropped (“h___,” for example). In a frontnote, Zimmer writes that City of Rocks is based on actual Folklore Project transcripts, which may explain the elisions but hardly seems necessary in a modern novel. In the main, though, the author’s use of newspaper clippings and asides from the narrator to begin many chapters is wholly engrossing, both adding to and temporarily rescuing readers from the nearly non-stop tension.
The story comprises an unforgettable "thinking man's western."
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