In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape, in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress. Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana, with a huge task before her--a canyon "as deep as the devil's own appetites." Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar--the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then there's John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the U.S. Army's last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. "Painted Horses" sends a dauntless young woman on a heroic quest, sings a love song to the horseman's vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future, often make strange bedfellows. It establishes Malcolm Brooks as an extraordinary new talent.
Advance Praise for "Painted Horses" "Brooks delivers an authentic story, examining in gripping, page-turning prose what it means to live in the West. . . . An outstanding debut novel that will linger in the reader's mind."--Donna Bettencourt, "Library Journal" (starred review) "Reminiscent of the fiery, lyrical and animated spirit of Cormac McCarthy's Borderlands trilogy, and the wisdom and elegance of Wallace Stegner's "Angle of Repose," "Painted Horses" is its own work, a big, old-fashioned and important novel."--Rick Bass, author of "All the Land to Hold Us" "From its filmic geographical canvases and epochs to its mesmerizing close-ups of men, women and horses whose weaknesses, wounds, and powers are in plain paradoxical view, Malcolm Brooks' novel-making is always skilled and often breath-taking. There isn't a passing landscape, archaeological wonder, minor character, dialect, or wild horse in this story that isn't convincing. And the broken but magic horseman, John H, is for my money one of the great characters of Montana's estimable literature."--David James Duncan, author of "The Brothers K" and "The River Why" ""Painted Horses" is a wonderful novel full of horses, archeology, the new West, and two fascinating women. Malcolm Brooks should be lauded for this amazing debut. Very fine."--Jim Harrison, author of "Legends of the Fall" and "Brown Dog" ""Painted Horses" is the kind of finely tuned and literary love story they don't make much of anymore. Fans of Jamie Ford's novels, or Jim Harrison's, will be enthralled by Malcolm Brooks. He evokes a time and a place tinged by an autumnal sun, the brass thunderclap of things ending and beginning again. "Painted Horses" will carry you away."--Doug Stanton, author of the "New York Times" bestseller "Horse Soldiers" "In "Painted Horses," Malcolm Brooks tells a spectacular story. An archeological adventuress searches for signs of a pre-conquest culture in the rugged depths of ae
Malcolm Brooks was raised in the rural foothills of the California Sierras, and grew up around Gold Rush and Native American artifacts. A carpenter by trade, he has lived in Montana for most of two decades. His writing has appeared in "Gray's Sporting Journal," "Outside," "Sports Afield," and "Montana Quarterly," among others.