"He rode the horse all night and again slept riding. The dirt was as soft as flour and ankle deep. the horse covered ground like a cold front. He didn't care what that Indian was riding. Mike knew he was putting the miles between them. There were no fences anymore."
Galvin's haunting debut novel concerns an accidental murder—a tragic mishap that begins with the best intentions—in the contemporary American West. Stepping his horse through the lush, beaver-worked draw looking for stray cows, Mike Arans never imagined that he was about to kill a man by swinging a nylon lasso around his neck. Once the man was dead, Mike pulled a notepad and pencil stub from his pocket and wrote, "I did this." He signed the note and stuffed it into the dead man's breast pocket. Mike then returned home, stocked up on supplies, and within minutes was heading west.
Thus begins what turns out to be a dramatic escape into the rugged wilderness of northern Colorado and Wyoming. The novel's deeper story, however, goes back many years and confronts the issues that divide contemporary westerners. At its center are Ad, Oscar, and Mike, whose lives turn with the seasons and the rigors of ranch life—mountain-hardened men who do not possess but are themselves possessed by the land.
Fencing the Sky is the story of how circumstances spiral out of control, the story of gross indifference and avarice in the face of breathtaking beauty. Ultimately, James Galvin's novel is a book about violence and how it destroys lives when the land is at stake. This long-awaited lyrical first novel is nothing less than the story of the disappearance of the American West.