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"Five Skies" by Ron Carlson

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Ron Carlson assembles three men in "Five Skies," each at a different, trying stage of his inner and overt journey. They all have an angry, or guilty, place they are running from, and assemble on a high cliff in Idaho to build something right.
Arthur Key is a huge man, muscled, experienced, intelligent, and kindly. He is also skittish and haunted by something that happened at home in California. Darwin Gallegos is the onetime manager on the ranch where they work; his wife was recently killed when the light plane she was flying in with the ranch owner crashed. He is angry with his former boss, and with God. Ronnie Panelli, the junior partner on the project, learns things about himself in leaps and bounds, and begins to understand that he's growing out of being a petty thief.

The comeraderie of the three is a rare treat. I read this immediately after Janet Fitch's "Paint it Black," and it works pretty well as the male version companion-piece. Here, the talk is all in the halting, laconic code that men use when they're unwilling to share their deepest feelings. The easy-going ribbing they give each other, in lieu of honest, heartfelt talk, is itself clever and delightful. Laurel wreaths to Carlson for these touches. They're wonderful. I do need to add, however, that as full of the male ethos as this book is, the members of this crew have more support for each other than they do for themselves.
Carlson's milieu of naked land, the uncluttered vistas of southeastern Idaho, affords him a place that is itself metaphor. The men are at an ending and a new starting; their lives have nothing but space in which to build. Their project, constructing a massive ramp for an insane motorcycle stunt, carries symbolic weight, too, as they each consider a heroic leap from their past lives.

"Five Skies" is brief, clean, heartfelt, and effective. This is an elegant fiction, and it will transport you the way a good book should. I recommend it very highly.
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