Two men deep in an isolated canyon, one seeking atonement, the other
revenge—both are armed…

Eric Lindsay is a studio musician in Los Angeles, crawling with talent and anger. He has written songs for the likes of Aretha Franklin and Tom Jones and has toured with Garth Brooks, he collects expensive guitars, drives a vintage Porsche, smokes his lungs black, carries a Glock in his glove compartment, and owes money to thugs and ex-wives. Eric grew up in Nebraska with a crazy mother and his twin sister, Gwen, the star of his life, until the star went out.

Ward Fall, a rancher in Wyoming, came from a prominent California family. He grew up with a scripted, constricting life plan that fell apart when the family lost its fortune. He now drinks too much whiskey and is subject to black moods brought on by a haunting guilt. Eric and Ward were classmates and friends at U.C. Berkeley. Their friendship turned ugly in an instant when, on a bird-hunting trip, Ward killed Gwen with his shotgun.

Now, 25 years later, Ward invites Eric to join him at a hunting camp in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. Although fearful of the reunion’s dark potential, Ward’s wife Lorraine encourages the trip with Eric, knowing Ward must confront his demons. He does. 

In Canyons, Samuel Western’s debut novel, the point of view shifts back and forth between these two men. This structure blooms in the climax, when the confrontation between Eric and Ward is told twice—once from each point of view. The dialogue is spot on. And, to balance the neuroses of the two protagonists, we have sanity and compass in the characters Graham, who reminds Eric that the music business is a business; and Lorraine, who is Ward’s strength, grounded in belief, reality, love, and grace.

Samuel Western has served in the Swedish Merchant Marine, worked as a commercial fisherman, a longshoreman, logger, and a hunting guide. He has published in The Economist, LIFE, and Sports Illustrated. A two-time recipient of the Wyoming Literary Fellowship for fiction, he was also a finalist for the High Plains Book Award for poetry. 

A Novel

Samuel Western
176 pages, paperback, $14.95
Publication date: October 12, 2015

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