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The thin mountain air by Paul Horgan
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The thin mountain air (1977)

by Paul Horgan

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"This time the period is the early 1920s. Richard leaves college when his father, the Lieutenant Governor, becomes ill with tuberculosis and is sent with his family to Albuquerque. In these new surroundings Richard's own precarious health soon becomes his family's concern and the doctor prescribes a period of outdoor work and "toughening up" for him at the WZL Ranch. In this "world elsewhere," Richard observes the strange domestic drama of old Don Elizario Wenzel, the owner, and Concha, his eighteen-year-old second wife, and its repercussions involving other ranch workers like Tom Agee, the Bible-talking manager, and Buz Rennison, the primitive young sensualist, with whom Richard shares a bunk room. The book's climax is a horrifying murder, which occurs during the season of the sweaty, grueling work of sheep-dipping. THE THIN MOUNTAIN AIR can be described as an exploration of the forms of love, as perceived through the awakening consciousness of the young protagonist. In the Dorchester scenes, Richard's need ffor deep parental love is warmly reciprocated, in contrast to the beckoning mystery of sexual love, symbolized for him by an anonymous young couple he observes living alone on an empty ship. In the ranch setting, the compulsive sensuality of Buz, who drags Richard off to a country wedding, leads to a night of debauchery and to Richard's first experience of reckless lust. The Don Elizario-Concha-Buz triangle is emblematic of the violence and irrationality of uncontrolled passion, while the turnabouts in Richard's knowledge even of those closest to him present another aspect of the novel's many-sided theme."--Jacket.… (more)

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