Mon 20 Jul, 2009
review by Susan Salter Reynolds
“Not only horses get broken around here,” writes Lisa Jones, a journalist who was almost devoured by a remarkable assignment on the West. In particular, she is writing of the Wind River Range in Wyoming where her subject, Stanford Addison, lives.
“Everything does, starting with the ground itself. Millions of years ago, a new mountain range broke through the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, leaving the original range’s broken remains leaning against the flanks of the Wind River Range.”
Jones, 42, was sent by Smithsonian magazine to profile Addison, “a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho reputed to be able to talk rank beginners through the process of breaking horses.” Addison, a “bad boy outlaw” into drugs and women and cars and horses, survived a violent accident when he was 20. The broken-down “res ride” he was in collided with horses on the road one night. His spinal cord was cut at neck level. Addison came to in a hospital surrounded by white people and a multitude of visions. His reputation as a spiritual healer grew. After finishing the article, Jones went back to spend five years researching this book. In Addison’s presence, she was broken, found some happiness, was often afraid and more often confused. Regardless of what you choose to believe about her story, doors were opened. Addison and his world, she writes, “were jewels, but dark ones, rich with the blood of people and horses and dogs that died for nothing, for carelessness or a flash of anger or too much drink or no reason at all.” Jones, the self-deprecating journalist (“Why couldn’t I shut up? Why did I get so nervous and yappy?”), locates herself beautifully in a story that is hers and not hers. This is her first book. We look forward to the next.