Mr. Brick & the Boys


by Paul Hunter

“If you want a real lesson in what’s going on around you, just watch your horse. All the while she’s watching something, she might be listening to something else with her ears swiveling around, and at the same time she might be smelling a third thing coming this way on the wind. Her eyesight might not be as good as ours in the daylight, but her hearing and smelling are sharper than ours, and make all the difference. Plus she sees in the dark pretty good.” – Mr. Brick & the boys

Brick is a cowboy. He has cowboy callouses and a history of chewin’ gravel. He also has the ambitious mindset to teach two Texas youngsters the art of horsemanship in the time of two-lane highways and four-wheel drive. The young brothers are inquisitive and eager as kit foxes to see how the west Texas rancher handles his brood mare. He reaches down metaphorically from the saddle and pulls them both up for a ride, a dusty classroom half haybarn and half hardscrabble. Brick, or Mr. Brick as the boys call him, comes to his craft the way a good outfielder learns to keep his head down, with a few bad hops to the forehead. The burnt-up trans-Pecos prairie, a place where cattle graze one for every hundred and fifty acres, is the backdrop for this immersion into the art and practice of getting along, with slow horses, low desert, and high-energy kids. There are no villains. There is no adversary. There is no tension. There is only the gentle reminder that we make ourselves who we want to be. I know a little bit about West Texas, the Big Bend, and how to treat livestock. Mr. Hunter has given a true reckoning. – Bart Baxter, award-winning poet & Seattle Slam Champion

One chapter, “Whole Lotta Learnin’ Goin’ On,” could be the book’s subtitle because not only are the boys and their parents constantly learning how to do practical tasks, but so are we. But not all learning is anticipated or wanted. “There are lessons you never want to learn about the world. How fragile love is. And how the heart was not made to see further than the eye.” There are simple lessons to learn which have life-changing consequences, like: “No use ridin’ in the rain unless you got somewhere to be that don’t mind in you come in late an’ wet. Otherwise wait until the rain lets up.” The chapter, “Mud Puppies,” is especially contemporaneous and urgent, given the impact of climate change on farming and cattle raising. “This climate change was real, and world-wide, and would make it hard to raise cows, or do much of anything sensible with summers all sun and no rain, with range fires on the loose.” After ravages of a five-year drought, Brick must figure out the best seeds, trees, and crops to plant to take advantage of when the rains come; how to plan and build cisterns for future rain capture. And when the rains finally come, “these rains and storms didn’t just ease in, they slam-banged and knocked everything flat.” – Phoebe Bosché, managing editor of The Raven Chronicles, & best-selling anthology Take a Stand: Art Against Hate

©2022 6” x 9” 190 pages b+w
Softcover ISBN: 978-1-885210-35-7

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Additional information

Weight 2 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 9 × 0.5 in

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