Book review of ‘Lost Creek’: Going native in Nederland
Special to the Daily
Any non-native Colorado residents will remember the moment when the realization hit them that Colorado was the place they were going to call home. For some, that moment is filled with excitement, for others, trepidation, and for many, a combination of the two. Colorado is not for the lazy or uninspired; living here requires a certain level of gumption.
For author R.J Ruud, moving to Colorado from the plains of the Midwest stirred the writer within. With its dramatic scenery and the myriad of characters inhabiting the mountain valleys, Ruud’s new home inspired his first novel, “Lost Creek.”
Paralleling his own arrival to the state, Ruud’s main character is a transplant, echoing the author’s journey from the flatlands to the rough-at-the-edges community of Nederland. Naive and young, Jack finds himself the owner of some land and a house, though both are a bit rough and tumble, and he immediately looks for a quick escape. That is, until Colorado begins to work her magic, and he finds himself drawn in, discovering comfort in the narrow valleys and the thin air and even within the broken-down walls of his cabin.
All plans for an exodus are abandoned when the dog, Blue, and the neighbor, Clancy, enter his life. Equally ornery and in need of a bath, these two characters continue to weave the spell that the spirited hills of Colorado have cast. But, not all magic is good, and Jack quickly learns that rules are often ignored at high altitude, and the Western spirit includes plenty of law-breaking. Soon, he finds himself drawn into a world of unsavory types, seductive women and enough marijuana to make proponents of Amendment 64 downright gleeful.
Written in a very loose, casual style, Ruud’s novel is clearly the voice of an enamored newbie who has found his utopia, where even the bad things become good. Nothing is ever boring in Nederland; the roads are always treacherous, the skies are always blue, except when the freak storm howls in, and the mountain lions are always lurking, and the pot is potentially poisoned, a shoot-em-up ambush in the canyons becomes commonplace and blazing guns, Old West-style, the norm. With the wide-eyed glee of a child acting out his favorite game in his blanket fort, Ruud sets up a world where anything can happen, and it does. Who says Coloradans don’t dream?
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