The Meadow

by James Galvin

Paperback, 1993

Call number

813.54 GAL



Holt Paperbacks (1993), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages


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 of 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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
On the Colorado-Wyoming border high in the Neversummer Mountains is a piece of land called The Meadow. Author James Galvin, who was raised in northern Colorado and has an intimate sense of the place, writes a one-hundred year history of the eponymous meadow. Narrating in short vignettes, he
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describes "seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain" (Publisher). Ray, Frank, Clara, and Lyle, my favourite character, are among those “possessed” – not only with the land in the arid mountains, but with wills of steel and relentless resourcefulness, grace, and neighbourliness.

The Meadow is spellbinding: a beautiful and timeless tribute to the American West and its people. That Galvin is a poet will not surprise, given the gorgeous prose. Highly, highly recommended.

"He takes a deep drag and looks down past the springhouse nested in the orange willow branches. Up over the opposing hill he sees the snow on the mountains west of Laramie. Another breath of wind comes up and starts the aspens chattering like nervous girls, and they catch the last low-angling rays of sun and flare. The dark tops of evergreens are red, almost bloody, and for a good thirty seconds he knows the world is something altogether other than what it appears to be." (121)
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
A collection of observations rather than a novel, but the thread that ties them together is their connection to a high-sage meadow somewhere on the Wyoming/Colorado border. This follows individuals in the 2 families that owned the land and their neighbors. Somewhat laconic, very independent, these
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men will go out of their way to help anyone in their remote region. I say "men" advisedly, as there are very few women represented in this book. Hard as iron, they have survived the isolation of being snowed-in for much of each winter and have learned to make what is needed. Yet you know they appreciated the beauty that comes there way in sunsets, snow on cedars, or wild animals.
Told from the point of view of a younger man who does not seem to be from one of the original settler families but works with the older men and here reports what he's learned of them.
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LibraryThing member Copperskye
I could be really lazy and just quote the blurb on the cover:

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

I loved this book, written by a poet and about, not so much the high-mountain meadow on the Colorado/Wyoming border, but the
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people who lived and attempted to live on it. I will miss App and Ray and Lyle, and even Clara, whom I would have liked to have gotten to know better but I realize this wasn't her story. A mix of memoir, fiction and natural history, it begs to be reread as I'm sorry it ended so soon.
Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member queenpetunia
Rich with poetic prose of a land and its occupants for about 100 years. Following Lyle's life until his death, I felt that I knew him. Might purchase a few copies to give as gifts. C & J recomended it.
LibraryThing member ParadisePorch
Quiet but powerful.
LibraryThing member EllsbethB
While at first I felt that this book was poetic, but choppy, the connections became more clear as I moved farther into the story and recognized its non-linear structure. Having lived in Laramie, I enjoyed reading about this nearby area of the Wyoming/Colorado boarder. Galvin's beautiful prose tells
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a story that embodies the Wyoming values of self-reliance and independence. This is a wonderful read that I know I will come back to again.
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