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Rode (2011)

by Thomas Fox Averill(Favorite Author)
3.84 of 5 Votes: 1
0826350291 (ISBN13: 9780826350299)
University of New Mexico Press
review 1: This was a great read, although not a standard western, it reminded me of old fashioned western stories...guy, horse, gal, thieves, and rugged terrain. Averill took the ballad Tennessee Stud and turned it into a full length book. Robert Johnson, falsely accused of murder, runs to the Southwest and in the process finds himself. He returns to Tennessee for his woman and starts a new life in Arkansas. Story is fast-paced, the hero faces one hurdle after another, and there is a True Grit punch in all the characters...I can see Clint Eastwood making this into a movie.
review 2: More than a half-century ago, Jimmy Driftwood wrote a song about a man and his horse, "Tennessee Stud," that told the story of a man's lost love, travels and adventures with the horse, and ev
... moreentual happy ending with his sweetheart.Inspired by the song, Averill made some travels of his own, to the locations in the song: Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Mexico. He took the song and filled in the gaps, rounded out the characters and created a thoroughly enjoyable novel, one that reflects the American spirit of independence and fresh starts, as well as the optimism and belief in the future that may yet lurk beneath today's cynicism.The song, and the novel, start out in Tennessee "along about eighteen and twenty-five." Framed for a murder he didn't commit by the disapproving family of his sweetheart, Robert Johnson flees on The Stud, the truest, fastest and most valiant horse in the new world, to hear Johnson tell it. He flees his family and his land, and the cabin he built with his own hands.Aimless, Johnson heads west, with a bounty hunter in pursuit. He encounters a variety of characters along the way, some friendly, some not, some who offer advice like: "Whatever you're running from, remember that's what you'll end up running toward."Those words ring true for Johnson in more ways than one, as he becomes an outlaw and a horse thief and even a killer despite having fled false charges of being the very same. And as he rides farther away from his Jo, she is all he can think about and what eventually brings him back.In the meantime, though, he encounters a Memphis entrepreneur with a big heart and a dangerous side enterprise, Indians, missionaries, Texans with an eye on statehood, Mexicans, horse-loving Spaniards, and settlers in Arkansas who are such fine people that it convinces him to make his new home there.He loses and regains The Stud more than once, but the pair have an indelible bond that deprivation, hardship and separation cannot break. An adult when he left, but still in some ways a boy, Johnson learns some hard lessons on his travels and truly grows up, mindful of the kind of man he wants to become.When he finally returns to settle his score and claim his bride, the novel plays out a little differently than the song does, but it fits well with the character of Robert Johnson whom we've come to know — and we're proud of him.Johnson's story, while archetypal in several ways, seems fresh and never turns into cliche. In lively and evocative prose, Averill paces Johnson's long journey well, giving fine detail when needed and rough sketches when that's all that's warranted.As Robert and Jo Johnson begin their lives together, their bliss is tinged with reality: "They would raise horses, become citizens of a new place, become people who could be trusted to do honest business in the world, who would have open hearts and open hearth. But first, Robert realized, he had to undo his words. And after that, unravel the knot of all his experiences in his travels, just as she had her own knots to loosen."A new life, a hope for the future, the bonds of friendship and family: the classic story of America, told in "Rode" with depth and emotion. less
Reviews (see all)
I would give it more like 3 1/2 stars. It was an enjoyable read.
Will read again for Nov 2014 meeting @ Terry C
Good read!Loved the horse angle to the story.
Simple story. Positive, good guy wins.
GREAT book
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