What a lovely gem!
Hamlin Garland makes you feel right at home in these stories of the midwest; a place he knew very well.
Garland loves to describe the wonderous midwest landscape. There are numerous stunning passages that make you feel in the heart of the west. Birds are always chirping, the sun is always busy making its colorful and hot rounds across the sky, and the people are typically busy fighting the wolf called poverty and the vultures known big business. Sometimes they simply have to grapple with their own youthful (and not so youthful) stupidity, short tempers, or greed.
The characters in Main-Travelled Roads are mostly likeable. Garland's homespun dialog is surpurb--I've never encountered better dialog although I suspect some might find it unPC and accuse him of sterotyping or caricturizing his characters.
I especially fell in love with the two stories featuring Mr. Ripley and his cantankerous but ultimately sweet old wife, Jane. How can you not like these two ol' timers after reading "Mrs. Ripley's Trip" and "Uncle Ethan Ripley."?
Garland prefers happy endings and after a couple stories I began to expect them. The modern cynical reader might expect unhappy endings in many of these tales, but Garland kept them all fairly positive. He likes to rescue the women and restore honor to fallen characters. Not too much tragic irony happening here. That's okay with me as it was a nice change.
I look forward to reading more of Garland's work particularly his Middle Border books.
Thanks Dr. West for the recommendation.
Last Edited on: 1/24/10 7:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 2