Far As the Eye Can See
Booklist Reviews 2014 October #1
Bausch's eighth novel follows Civil War veteran Bobby Hale as he works his way through the American West. Bausch's voice is more Mark Twain than Larry McMurtry, and Hale shows more sympathy for the natives than do many lead characters in traditional westerns. The novel offers an admirably panoramic view of the Plains Wars, presenting all sides decently without unduly glamorizing any individual or group. Bausch is perceptive without being preachy, and he grants Hale a wide range of emotions while preserving a recognizable strand of stoic masculinity. Some of the historical elements, particularly Custer's Last Stand, feel like cameos, and, even in the world of the picaresque, Hale's journey grows aimless. The story crests when Hale stops to consider a frontier existence both familiar and unfamiliar: "It ain't easy being on this earth for none of us—because we know about future things and what we want or don't want, or we can be pretty damn confused by both wanting and not wanting." Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 September #1
Two time lines merge in Bausch's latest novel: in 1876 Bobby Hale and a mixed-race woman named Diana, aka Ink, struggle to survive in the beautiful but unforgiving lands of Montana and the Dakota territories. The unlikely pair—Bobby shot Ink and nursed her back to health—are on the run from her warrior husband, the U.S. Army, and Native Americans. Flashback to 1869: at various turns a trapper, a scout, and a wagon-train leader, Civil War vet Bobby meets a number of folks—soldiers, settlers, native peoples—in his journey of survival and self-redemption. Bobby faces life and death judgments through both time lines. VERDICT With two novels selected as Washington Post favorites—A Hole in the Earth and Out of Season—Bausch (English, North Virginia Community Coll.) captures the immense measure of the American landscape in his descriptions of the western setting. While the flashback section plods along, once the 1876 trail is picked up again, the tension builds as Bobby and Ink find themselves witnesses to Custer's Last Stand. Not to be missed by historical fiction fans. [For another fictional take on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, see also John Hough Jr.'s Little Big Horn.—Ed.]—Wendy W. Paige, Shelby Cty. P.L., Morristown, IN[Page 98]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 August #3
As expansive as the country it traverses, Bausch's majestic odyssey through the Old West finds rich nuance in a history often oversimplified. After the Civil War, hardscrabble veteran Bobby Hale heads toward California only to find that rampant violence plagues both his dreams and the vast landscape unrolling before him. Learning that trouble is everywhere, he leads a wagon train along the Oregon Trail, spends five seasons as a trapper, then reluctantly puts his knowledge of the land to use scouting for U.S. forces intent on rounding up native tribes. On one mission, he attacks a native peace party under the mistaken belief that they are warriors, violating the codes of whites and natives alike. As he tries to reach his home base near Bozeman, Mont., without incurring retaliation from either side, his encounters with a mixed-race woman, a young Indian boy, and the battling forces at Little Big Horn transform him. The novel's patient, searching first-person narration is finely balanced, with a voice at once straightforward and lyrical, grand and particular. Bausch's (Almighty Me!) characters defy facile judgments; each is sharply distinctive, yet all struggle to find a footing amid the clash of human difference that is, in Bobby Hale's words, the "most spacious war of all." (Nov.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC