Five Skies

Five Skies - Ron Carlson Five Skies follows what should be a fine formula for a short novel: the characters are familiar; the setting is dramatic; the issues are those that have been sounded in a number of novels of the American West. The problem is that the genus of brooding Western men is an overplayed type; while publishers may not get enough of them, perhaps readers can. We have met these men — whose pains are buried, whose losses are great, whose relationships with women are muted, awkward, and transparently affectionate — through Wallace Stegner, through Larry McMurtry, through Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf, and not all of these introductions have been fictional. Five Skies does nothing to elevate the type out of redundancy, and the structure of the novel — as carefully measured as the construct at the center of its plot — makes the exercise feel mechanical, and the grand horizon of its setting appear false, painted, and flat.