Review - "Marathon Cowboys" by Sarah Black
Knocked me the hell OUT
Lorenzo Maryboy is home from war. An aspiring cartoonist, this Navajo Marine is on his way to Marathon, Texas to meet up with a potential mentor. After two tours of duty in the Middle East, he is ready to start his new life.
Jesse Clayton III is out'n'proud. A recognized artist, he is on his way back to his grandfather's home in Marathon to get back in touch with his roots and start a new series of paintings inspired by the strong men there.
When Maryboy saves Jesse from a beatdown in a redneck bar in a small town outside Maarathon, they discover they have a lot in common. Both are headed to Marathon. Both are artists. Both like men...
Maryboy is used to rules and order and regulation, and when he finds himself falling for the unpredictable, volatile Jesse, he decides to approach the situation like a war game. Strategize, plan, stay the course. Of course Jesse is having none of that - he makes his own rules, and his art comes first.
This book started with a gallop and NEVER let up! Sarah Black has created two unforgettable characters who storm through this story like a Texas twister.
What makes this book fly is the care with which Ms. Black builds her characters. It would be so easy to make Maryboy as much of a cartoon as the ones he draws. Or have Jesse be the mindless twink he appears at first blush. And The Original a caricature of the old crusty redneck that populate so many other books. But these characters are made from sterner stuff - the love with which they were crafted shows in not only the shading of all of them, but in the care with which the dialogue is written.
"Jesse reached down, cleaned the sand around the shrine. 'I came here when my grandmother died.' he said. 'I was about seven, I think. Maybe six. We put her picture inside, and a prayer card, and I lit a candle and prayed that the virgin would make sure my grandmother got into heaven, even though she had spanked my butt the night before she died, and kept me from those cookies.' That was the moment, watching Jesse pick dead leaves from the shrine, that I fell in love with him."
God, does it get much better than that??? It's called draw the character, give him great depth and true words to say and real things to do, and stay true to him. So few get it right - Ms. Black does.
And the quirkiness - so good. " 'Make it so', I said, quoting Captain Jean-Luc Picard and pointing down the long, dusty road back to Marathon. 'Failure is not an option.' I wondered if a street map of San Francisco would look anything like the Borg." Holy Jesus, that send shivers down my spine.
A little over halfway through, I felt absolutely freaking gob-smacked. Hit over the head with a two by four. The story hit fifth gear and just...took me along for the ride. And guys, I went WILLINGLY. In good hands.
"Inside this house, we were warm and loved. A couple of old men sat on the porch, enjoying the silence, keeping watch do we could sleep."
I died and went to heaven.
Join me - read this book.