Rick Alan Rice (RAR)
Copyright © Rick Alan Rice (RAR)
Cowboy Town was written almost entirely in longhand and in study carrels at the main branch of the Vallejo, California public library. The exact dates are lost in memory, but the work took around six months, as I recall. My wife and I moved from San Anselmo, California to Vallejo, California in 1992 and this project started one morning shortly thereafter. For reasons utterly unclear to me, I sat down at our dining room table and started writing out chapters by hand, which I rarely did even back then because it means having to go back and retype everything later, which I abhor.
This manuscript survived our 2005 house fire, in which 97 percent of our possessions were lost.
I believe the genesis for the thing was my wife’s affection for those vintage Hollywood films shown on the classic movie channels. Those old films, particularly the black & whites, have a humanity about them that one rarely feels in film today, in large part because people of the earlier era, at least as they were portrayed in the movies of the era, were far less guarded than people today. The honesty about life’s fragile nature weighed heavily on people who were products of the Great Depression, and that central fact of shared suffering and heartache, and shared appreciation of simple survival, informed that Golden Age of Hollywood.
Cowboy Town attempts to capture that feeling of honesty and absence of pretension, which I think can only be done by casting people from that earlier time, and setting their story in the context of a world far different than the one we live in now. This particular world is the product of my own first-hand experiences in Colorado and on farms and ranches in Nebraska and Kansas, places I grew up or experienced on summer vacations as a kid of the 1950s. I come from farmers and ranchers and have worked in hay fields, on dairy farms and cattle ranches, and in the wheat harvests. There is really no aspect of the world portrayed in Cowboy Town that I have not experienced first hand. I feel like I know these people, like Dorothy waking up in the final scene of “The Wizard of Oz” and recognizing the faces of the farm hands from her other world dream.
Life is something of a dream, a surreal walk through the odd constructions we create for ourselves. But it is dangerous on that frontier. Everyone in Cowboy Town is clinging to life in one way or another, there are no souls at peace. The world is closing in on them, and the world they once new is coming to an end. The cowboys are mostly gone, replaced by ranch workers in pickup trucks and unglamorous farmers working large parcels of crop land. There is a longing in these people for that earlier time that lives in their DNA, a primal memory of a period when individuals mattered more and when simple men could carve out a place for themselves on the strength of their own hard work and indomitable spirits.
At the heart of Cowboy Town is a romance with “goodness”, a concept I continue to hold out hope for. There are good people in this world, it just isn’t always apparent. Some of them must put their past transgressions behind them so they can move on to something that promises to be better.
That’s what Cowboy Town is about to me: people making hope out of lonely isolation on internal planes.
I wrote this novel for my wife Joanne, who serves as the model for the character “Joanne” who is the love interest in the book. The spirits of these two women inform every aspect of this story. –
RAR (April 11, 2009)
Copyright © Rick Alan Rice (RAR), 2009 Cowboy Town is the sole property of its author, Rick Alan Rice (RAR). This work may not be reproduced or re-distributed in any way without the expressed written permission of the author.