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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

Hard Country
By Michael McGarrity. Dutton. 624 pp. $28.95.
Top Pick
McGarrity, the popular author of a baker’s dozen mysteries featuring former New Mexico sheriff Kevin Kerney, stretches his literary wings in this epic novel of three generations of Kerney men (and one exceptional woman) carving out lives in the unforgiving badlands of West Texas and southern New Mexico. McGarrity has his history down cold, as his compelling fictional characters rub elbows with the likes of Billy the Kid, Albert Fountain, Oliver Lee, Pat Garrett, Albert Fall, Eugene Manlove Rhodes and other notable southwesterners. But the real jewel here is the family saga of flawed men overcoming their limitations in order to hold fast in a hard country. McGarrity once again proves himself a master storyteller. []
This saga of the settling of the Kerney family in the Tularosa Basin covers the years 1875-1918. The title is apt as the characters endure drought, floods, Apache raids, rustlers, financial woes, untimely death of loved ones, two wars, and political skullduggery, all based on what seems to be accurate research. For me the real strength is the characters: John Kerney, who is doggedly determined to provide a future for his son; Patrick, who can’t admit weakness or show emotion; and his wife Emma, equally stubborn. The language flows; the dialogue rings true, all in all an outstanding historical novel. []

Hard to Have Heroes
By Buddy Mays. University of New Mexico Press. 248 pp. $19.95.
Top Pick
In the late 1950s, fourteen-year-old Oregonian Noah recounts the year he spent living with his mother and cantankerous Uncle Bud on a hard scrabble ranch outside of Tularosa, NM. The hot, lonesome, rattlesnake-infested country is the perfect place for a boy to develop self-reliance, courage, rodeo skills and life-long friendships. All of these things Noah does and has exciting adventures along the way, including a stand-off between his uncle (aided by Apaches) and the US Military, which wants to take his “kettle wrench” for missile testing. Fascinating descriptions of desert creatures are a bonus in this heartwarming coming-of-age novel for adults. []

Haunted, The
By Bentley Little. Signet. 389 pp. $7.99.
If you can suspend belief, this is a very scary horror tale set in a small city in New Mexico. An ordinary family moves to an old house only to discover that it’s haunted by a vindictive, controlling, evil monster who predates the Spanish conquest. By turns terrifying, edifying, insightful, mundane (words wasted on descriptions of meals), and gross (sexual weirdness), this is a mixed bag. The author knows his locale, develops believable characters, creates suspense, offers a groundbreaking solution, but it was hard for this reader to get involved. []

Hell of a Vision: Regionalism and the Modern American West
By Robert L. Dorman. University of Arizona Press. 272 pp. Index. $50.00.

Our Southwest gets its share of attention, but Dorman’s scope is the entire region west of the Rockies and his aim is to understand and illuminate the rise of regionalism during the 20th century, especially as represented in literature.
Her Knees Pulled in
By Elizabeth Jacobson. Tres Chicas Books. 84 pp. $14.00.
In this reflective edition of her own poems, poet Elizabeth Jacobson ably blends her love of the Southwest with her understanding of what it means to be a woman. The four sets of poems -- “Angels of Children Circle the Planet,” “The Inside of an Orange Melon,” “Coil,” and “Five Seasons” -- sparkle and dance with lines like “After morning tea there is the sun / so passionate her arms burn in minutes / leaving her hot for the rest of the day…” and “A lyre snake / its back of petroglyphs / designed to cloak / his detective life….” Jacobson keenly senses arroyos and red cliffs, sun and amor. []

Hidden America:From Coal Miners to Cowboys, An Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work
By Jeanne Marie Laskas. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 318 pp. $26.95.

In this Terkel-like glimpse into working America the Southwest rates two chapters, one on a “Guns ‘R’ Us” store in Arizona and another about a ranch in Texas. Neither are places you’ll probably visit on your own, but both reveal something of modern America.
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