The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton (1973, 2010 reprint edition)

Genre: Western
Interest Level: Adult
The Time It Never Rained A duster! A genre I rarely pick up, but this one caught my eye on the new books shelf at my local library. And I’m so glad I did. Charlie Flagg is in his 50s, with a wife grown distant, and a son who’s more interested in the rodeo than working a dusty, drought-worn, time-worn ranch in Texas. But Charlie loves his land, where his grandfather and then his father and now he calls home. He cares for every inch of it, riding the boundaries in silence as he calls to mind its history and its glory. The book opens as a drought is setting in, one that will try this determined man to the bone. Kelton, born in Texas, draws pictures of the flowers and shrubs, makes you smell the earth and see the jackrabbits and roadrunners scampering through the prickly pear cactus and scrub oak. And he walks you through the years as the drought takes hold and dries up this parched land almost beyond use. Kelton wrote this book in the 50s, couldn’t find a publisher, and took it up again more than a decade later. He revised it thoroughly and sent it off and this time it was accepted. Of course, he’d already won two Spur Awards by then, and this one gained him a third. You’ll admire Charlie and wish there were a few more like him.

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