Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

Lucky boy Jim Fer­gus has given us a won­der­fully ide­al­ized hero in 17-year-old cow­boy Bog­art Lam­bert. Bo­gie, whose ex­ploits open Fer­gus’ new, self-pub­lished The Mem­ory of Love, leaves his fam­ily’s Colorado ranch in 1916 with his stal­lion, Crazy Horse, to fight the Ger­mans in France. Bo­gey is some­thing of a per­fectly formed hero — an ac­com­plished ath­lete, a rodeo star, an ex­pert in fast-draw shoot­ing, and a skilled pugilist, who, early on in the novel, knocks out an ag­gres­sive horse auc­tion­eer with a sin­gle punch. Luck also seems to be with him. Af­ter ar­riv­ing in New York, he’s hired to be the bouncer at a house of ill re­pute, a job with pay and ben­e­fits. Later, Bo­gey, who has some­how man­aged to get Crazy Horse to the front lines, is seen gal­lop­ing across no-man’s-land, leap­ing the high­est tan­gles of barbed wire.

Re­mark­able though Bo­gey is as a char­ac­ter, the book fo­cuses as much on an ac­tual person, the ex­pres­sion­is­tic painter Chry­sis Jung­bluth. Her con­tro­ver­sial paint­ing Orgie, com­pleted when she was 18, serves as a com­mon thread of cre­ativ­ity and spirit. Fer­gus, in what’s one of the most per­sonal, maybe even em­bar­rass­ing, fore­words to a novel, re­veals his long­time part­ner’s fond­ness for the sort of free­dom the paint­ing de­picts, along with his daugh­ter’s sur­pris­ing re­ac­tion to that. Need­less to say, Chry­sis and Bo­gey are made for each other, the two meet­ing in Paris af­ter Bo­gey heals from his war in­juries and spends time as a pub fighter. The re­sult of that meet­ing and the in­ten­sity of their re­la­tion­ship are cap­tured in the paint­ing. Fer­gus might stand to tighten up his writ­ing a bit, but he cer­tainly knows how to con­struct an en­ter­tain­ing story about two larger-than-life peo­ple. Keep this one away from the kids. When Fer­gus reads at 6 p.m. on Tues­day, July 8, at Col­lected Works Book­store (202 Gal­is­teo St., 505-988-4226), he’ll be in­tro­duced by lo­cal lit­er­ary fig­ure Fred­er­ick Turner.

— Bill Kohlhaase

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