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Reviewed by A. L. Peevey for Readers' Favorite
The Cattle Driver by Ryan Uytdewilligen tells us the story of an old cowboy, Ken Dalgliesh. Ken has made his fortune on the vast open lands of Texas and no longer needs to ride the range herding cattle. His children, now adults, all live in distant cities. But Ken misses his cowboy life, and he stubbornly refuses to give up the old ways, preferring to ride his trusty work horse, Bert, everywhere to conduct the business of running his vast cattle ranch. Then one day as his wife and children gather to celebrate Ken’s birthday, an event he would rather forget, he is given a gift that could irrevocably change his life forever and finally bring him into the twentieth century. But, will he accept the gift and all it entails?
In The Cattle Driver, Ryan Uytdewilligen evokes nostalgia for a time now past; it is essentially the world of his grandfather, Keith, himself a cowboy in his younger days, as we readers are told in the story’s dedication. Uytdewilligen captures the spirit of the Old West and the cowboy way of life inevitably giving way to so-called progress. His tone is playful, and the story moves along enjoyably almost like a tall tale or one with a moral. There is a wistfulness to Ken’s struggle to resist progress, even when it has the potential to make his life and business easier. The calamity that occurs is almost predictable, but Ken’s acceptance of what comes after shows us that even when we find ourselves living busy lives, simplicity is something that many of us crave. Ultimately, this is a fun, quick-paced and engaging read.