AMERICAN BUFFALO author, Steven Rinella shares a few of his favorite books.October 6, 2009
I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal. My wife and I were talking about influential books of our college years and I mentioned Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being. She rolled her eyes a little and started urging me to read here favorite Czech writer, Hrabal. I quickly hammered through a couple of his novels and was blown away by this one. It's just so funny and alive.
Tough Trip Through Paradise by Andrew Garcia. This is an account of a kid who gets a loan to buy equipment and supplies in Bozeman, Montana, and then takes it into the Musselshell Valley to trade with the Indians for furs. This during 1878 and 1879. Some historians accuse of Garcia of playing hard and fast with the truth, which is probably true, but his account provides an astonishing look at the culture and sex lives of Indian tribes that were edging toward the end of their free existence on the Great Plains.
Interior and Northern Alaska: A Natural History by Ronald L. Smith. Boring as hell title, yes, but this guy really knows his stuff. If you're at all interested in the finer, interconnected workings of the natural world, I suggest this book. And it doesn't just relate to Alaska. It's full of stuff that anyone who loves nature should know.
Red Rover by Deirdre McNamer. Full disclosure: Dee, as her friends call her, is a wonderful friend of mine. But I can't let that stop me from adding her fourth novel to this list. She is a beautiful writer, and her prose is dark, precise, and unsettling. If you need to be in a sunny, carefree mood over the next few days, better put this one off for now. But don't wait too long.
Son of the Morning Star by Evan S. Connell: Simply the greatest thing ever written about the American west. Period.