Monday, October 13, 2014

A US-Mexico Border Memoir: Lisa G. Sharp's A Slow Trot Home

Lisa G. Sharp, author of the memoir
A Slow Trot Home
It was thanks to Women Writing the West that I first came upon the extraordinary writing of Lisa G. Sharp. Mexicans sit up and take notice when I mention that she's the granddaughter of the owner of the Greene Cattle Company, which had its headquarters in Cananea, a place synonymous with an infamous massacre in the years leading up to the Mexican Revolution. But to get beyond that: A Slow Trot Home, Sharp's memoir about growing up, first in her grandmother's house in Cananea, and then for most of her life on San Rafael, a working cattle ranch a scooch north of the border in a remote corner of Arizona, is one of the most beautifully written and moving memoirs I have ever read. The sweep of the land, the peace and violence of the sky, the people, both Mexican and American, and all the animals, come alive with a rare vividness. It's poetic prose that, in places, breaks open into poetry itself, as with this list in the chapter "Winter":

Frozen water troughs.
Short days.
Matches handy by wood stoves.
A dead calf half eaten by coyotes and vultures.
Dogs curled up by fire places.
Down comforters and flannel sheets.
Bare trees, dormant rose bushes, red berries.
Stews, soups, Christmas tamales.
Fires burned all day long.

By the end, as she returns to visit her mother's lonely grave, one understands what this is: an elegy for a world that is no more. Now the SUVs rumbling by might more likely carry birdwatchers or Border Patrol officers than ranchers or ranch hands. 9/11 changed everything on the US-Mexico Border. And in what had been velvet nights, electric lights from Mexico glow on the horizon.

Literati will note that this is self-published. I think that says far more about the state of publishing than it does this splendid book. I recommend it for anyone interested in a fine read, and especially for anyone interested in ranching culture and the US-Mexico border region.

From Lisa G. Sharp's blog:

Her visit to Cananea (Mexican history buffs, this is a must-read!)

Cowboys, Cattle and Copper (more about Cananea, with lots of photos)

If you're in Arizona, you can catch Lisa G. Sharp on her book tour this fall and winter.

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

(The unique adobe teaching house on the US-Mexico Border
in Presidio, TX)