Legends of the Fall
by Harrison, Jim
pub. by Delacorte Press, NY - copyright 1978       isbn 0-440-05461-3 - - 276 p. -
This volume contains realy 3 stories, and the volume title is the last presented in the book.
The first story Revenge is about an ex-military helicopter pilot who has friends, one of which is a Mexican drug lord. The Drug lords beautiful wife comes on to the pilot and they have an affair. After many warnings the couple having the affair suffers for their adultry. Astoundingly, neither are murdered. The pilots revenge in turn for the drug lords revenge takes up the latter part of the story.
The second story The Man who gave up his name is about a successful man, with family, who, after the children are off to college has his midlife crisis, divorces his wife, liquidates his assets and goes off to live a simpler life, cooking.
the third story Legends of the Fall begins just before WWI and continues on through the end of Prohibition in 1933. There is an epilog which ties up loose ends to the end of the lives of the major characters. In short, a wealthy rancher in Montana, who was a mining engineer, had 3 sons, who volunteered into the Canadian army early in WWI. One dies in France, and the eldest Tristan goes mad with revenge and is unusually good at killing the enemy, taking scalps. He escapes a mental hospital before he can be medically discharged and finds his way to his grandfather in Cornwall. The grandfather takes him on his schooner and while moving cargo from England to the Americas deposits Tristan with his mother in Boston. Tristan marries his long suffering bethrothed and returns with her and mom to the ranch in Montana. A year later he meets up with his grandfather in Havana and takes over the schooner. After several years of working the schooner as a trading vessel he returns to Montana. By this time his marriage is over, and he marries a local girl. They have children. He uses his schooner on the west coast of USA to bring in illegal whiskey. This causes him to run afoul of the Irish who have that trade locked up. He liquidates them. Tristan returns to the Montana ranch and after some long time the Irish send 2 to exact revenge on Tristan, and his family deals with them. End of story. Epilog petty much says they lived on to mostly natural deaths. On through this tale a faithful Cheyenne (indian) retainer gives a native American flavor. This story tries to be a great American novel, as War and Peace does for Russia. It fails due to its brevity and undevelopment of characters other than the protagonist(s).
These are quick and easy reads. Well written and enjoyable for a passtime but do not leave a lasting impression. This book was recommended by a friend who was impressed by the accuracy of the portrayal of the Cheyenne in the story.
They were originally published individually in Esquire magazine.
~ 2010-12-26 ~

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