The Meadow

James Galvin

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Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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An American Library Association Notable Book

In discrete disclosures joined with the intricacy of a spider's web, James Galvin depicts the hundred-year history of a meadow in the arid mountains on the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain. In so doing he reveals an experience that is part of our heritage and mythology. For Lyle, Ray, Clara, and App, the struggle to survive on an independent family ranch is a series of blameless failures and unacclaimed successes that illuminate the Western character. The Meadow evokes a sense of place that can be achieved only by someone who knows it intimately.


Praise for The Meadow

"A masterpiece. The Meadow is one of the best books ever written about the American West."—William Kittredge

"Gifted poet Galvin blends fiction and fact into a haunting story . . . This careful, honest, and passionate exploration gives The Meadow its power and beauty."—Harry Middleton, The New York Times Book Review

"The absolute beauty and shine of this book—straightforward and stunning. This is the people we were and the land we once had."—James Salter

"The intensity of Galvin's passion for the land and its human caretakers makes this a masterpiece of insight into the stewardship of mountain-hardened souls."—Sandy Primm, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"The Meadow ponders the attentive quiet at the center of a Western life, the human side of a conversation with place. Its language reenacts the discipline through which wilderness refines consciousness. It is a beautiful book."—Marilynne Robinson

"A unique and extraordinary book, a mixture of novel and natural history wherein Galvin reinvents the form, the true mark of a genuine artist . . . I can't recommend it too highly."—Jim Harrison

"This wonderful collection of vignettes and short sketches centers on a high country meadow located in the Neversummer Mountains along the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin, author of three books of poetry, knows the landscape intimately and conveys an unforgettable sense of the beauty and isolation of the area. Equally fascinating are the portraits of the few who inhabit this landscape of rugged individualists and family ranches. Rarely has an author captured life in the American West with such poignancy. Highly recommended."—Tim Markus, Evergreen State College Library, Olympia, Washington, Library Journal

"A passionate hundred-year history of a small mountain ranch on the Colorado-Wyoming border. Galvin was raised and still lives for part of each year in Tie Siding, Wyoming. Here, he tells of the lives of his neighbors and of the successive owners of a ranch consisting in the main of a 360-acre hay meadow. Galvin's annals are comprised of one hundred very brief vignettes, remarkable for their sympathetic portrayals of these men and women and their Antaeus-like symbiosis with the beautiful but unforgiving land. Cutting back and forth in time, the author tells of Appleton ('App') Worster, who homesteaded the meadow in 1895, raising three boys but losing two wives and finally the farm itself in 1938. App was buried on a ridge where his sons had to use drills and dynamite to dig his grave. Galvin also writes of App's son Ray, who, while logging at age 12 with his brothers and father, saw a man fishing and was struck dumb by astonishment—it was the first time Ray had ever seen someone he didn't know. And then there's the meadow's present owner, Lyle, slowly drowning in emphysema and condemned to sitting by himself and gazing at the log buildings he made by hand and at the meadow where he cut timothy grass for 40 years . . . Close-ups of seldom-seen bedrock people of the American West, adroitly drawn and deeply felt."—Kirkus Reviews

"A true story that reads like a novel, its focal point being a piece of land in the Neversummer Mountains on the Colorado-Wyoming border. In a series of vivid vignettes and short sketches, Gavin records the 100-year history of the meadow and the few people who lived and died there. His description of every facet of life there, its seasons, the weather, the wildlife, is so evocative that readers can easily understand why its inhabitants care so much about it. This fine piece of regional writing will recall the land and people of the American West to anyone who has been there, and introduce them to those who have not. It is a book that would grace any collection."—Pamela B. Rearden, Centerville Regional Library, Fairfax County, Virginia, School Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



  • James Galvin

  • Raised in northern Colorado, James Galvin is the author of three volumes of poetry and a novel, Fencing the Sky. He has received the Nation/Discovery Award as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Institutes. Mr. Galvin divides his time between Iowa City, where he teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and his ranch near Tie Siding, Wyoming.