Inside the Capitol

Thursday, July 14, 2005

7-20 Reading List

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Recently we talked about the non-existent Jay Miller Book Club and what books would be a part of it if there were such a thing.
After due consideration, I, hereby, am creating the Jay Miller Reading List. It's not required reading, but it would be nice if you could get through them this summer before school starts.
In the first installment, we covered "Marc Simmons' New Mexico: An Interpretive History," Calvin Horn's "New Mexico's Troubled Years" and Bruce King's "Cowboy in the Roundhouse." In this edition, we continue with New Mexico history, written mostly by New Mexico authors.
Paul Horgan, of Roswell, won the Pulitzer Prize for "Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History." The two-volume set is a masterpiece of American historical writing and is still available over 50 years after its original printing. "The Centuries of Santa Fe" also is a magnificent work, tracing the city from its beginning to the mid 1900s. Horgan also wrote novels and short stories, capturing the flavor and spirit of New Mexico.
Santa Fean Ruth Laughlin's "The Wind Leaves No Shadow" gives us a taste of the 25-year Mexican period of our history, with the tremendous changes brought by the Santa Fe Trail. The story of the gambling hall queen Dona Tules Barcelo has been so popular, it has been through nine printings since 1951.
"Death Comes for the Archbishop" is Willa Cather's great novel of New Mexico, set in the middle of the 19th century. It is based on the lives of Bishop Jean Baptiste L'Amy and his vicar Father Joseph Machebeut. Its 43 printings are an indication of its importance in chronicling New Mexico's past. Horgan also wrote an historical account called "Lamy of Santa Fe."
Taoseno John Nichols' "Milagro Beanfield War" is a New Mexico classic that has been made into a movie. With great humor and sensitive human awareness, Nichols describes life in northern New Mexico that should be required reading for any newcomer to the area. "The Magic Journey" and "The Nirvana Blues" make up the remainder of his New Mexico trilogy and also are well worth reading.
Santa Fean Richard Bradford's coming-of-age novel "Red Sky at Morning" also made it into the movies and should be required reading for anyone moving to Santa Fe. Set in the 1940s, it is largely biographical and hilariously captures the essence of Santa Fe.
New Mexico legend Tony Hillerman keeps turning them out. And every one is just as good as the last. Besides getting to enjoy classic murder mysteries, that go light on gore and chase scenes, we also are treated to lessons in Indian history.
I like Hillerman's books because they involve issues important to Indians, about which the general public should be much more aware. Sometimes they don't have anything to do with the plot, but the reader doesn't know it at the time. And Hillerman sneaks in his message anyway.
Another prolific New Mexico mystery writer is Michael McGarrity. Like Hillerman, he waited until retirement to get started and has been making up for it ever since. McGarrity's books cover all of his beloved state and demonstrate a keen knowledge of law enforcement, where he spent much of his career.
You don't want to miss Albuquerquean Max Evans' book "Madam Millie," about the most successful madam in the business. She had bordellos throughout southwest New Mexico and as far north as Alaska, but called Silver City home. She rubbed elbows with the state's most prominent New Mexicans and survived in the business from the '20s until the '70s. Evans spent 20 years with Millie and a tape recorder getting the story.
And finally, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's book "Lazy B," which I mentioned upon her retirement, tells of ranch life in southwest New Mexico. During her college days as a law clerk in Lordsburg, her path even crossed Silver City Millie's.
WED, 7-20-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



Post a Comment

<< Home