Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biography: When I Came West by Laurie Wagner Buyer

A college student and former army brat hooks herself to a man she’s never met who is 13 years her senior and crosses the country in order to be his companion. Along the way to a life filled with hardship, deprivation and riches she discovers the physical strength to deal with her uncertain reality as well as the spiritual strength to handle challenges beyond any her sheltered upbringing had prepared her for. While all of that may sound like the plot of the sort of romance meant to keep you nailed to your lawn-chair for a whole weekend, it’s actually a personal memoir so riveting it reminds the reader that the truth really can be much stranger -- and more compelling -- than fiction.

Over the course of When I Came West (University of Oklahoma Press) Laurie Wagner Buyer is transformed from a squeamish college student to a toughened frontiers-woman reminiscent of the western women of yore. Wagner Buyer has a light touch with even the more emotional parts of her story and the subtext is one of hope and growth. The west she describes seems at times unbelievable: virtually unchanged, in many ways, for over a hundred years.
The second spring came early. The snow line retreated each day and left miniature, majestic lakes on the meadow. Wild swans glided in late in the evening; they came for last summer’s seeds and their calls sounded dusk-soft, eternal. The crazy cries of loons echoed back and forth across the land, drifting high, lonesome, and eerie in the night skies.
Wagner Buyer shifts the physical and the emotional effortlessly, painting a picture of raw beauty, sometimes painted over with pain. It’s a lovely little book. ◊

Monica Stark is an American writer and editor and a contributing editor to January Magazine. She currently makes her home on a liveaboard boat somewhere in the North Pacific.

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Anonymous Deborah said...

It is indeed another brilliant piece of work by Laurie. This is a book you will not want to put down until you have reached the end. She has posted more articles and info about it on the website designed for this book. http://whenicamewest.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 1:30:00 PM PDT  

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