22 April 2010

Non-fiction as fiction

I was disappointed (or distracted) when I read Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie. But I did want to read about his buffalo ranching experiences, so I got Buffalo for the Broken Heart from the Northfield Library.

This book is pretty straight non-fiction. O'Brien tells the story of struggling to raise cattle on a South Dakota ranch (the Broken Heart) in the prairie between the Badlands and the Black Hills. He explains how he gradually became convinced that raising buffalo was the way the save the ranch and its environment. Then he describes how he (and his bankers) got buffalo for the ranch.

It's a good story, and it is told very well. And the story is told as if it were fiction. There's a beginning, middle, and an end. There are characters and drama. There is science and explanations. There are complete stories within the main story. And the the narrative concludes at the end of the book -- although there's another story implied by the ending. (I wish he'd done this with Brendan Prairie.)

I liked this book. I am looking forward to meeting O'Brien and seeing the Broken Heart next July.

Now, I may well go looking for another of O'Brien's novels next time I'm at the library.

Have you read Buffalo for the Broken Heart? How did you respond to it? Write, and tell this little bit of the world.

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