‘In Patagonia’

In Patagonia (Penguin Classics)In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a Penguin Classic; of course you should read it.

[Pause.]

…I finished reading Chatwin’s book on a pockmarked park bench facing a landscaped sidewalk on the edge of Prospect Park. Behind me a menagerie of trees and shrubs dripped from an unseen rain shower like the loose greens on a supermarket shelf.

I closed the book and set it on my lap, reflecting on how Chatwin linked place to history and then back again.

In one chapter, Chatwin relates a seemingly banal letter sent by rancher in Patagonia, then reveals that the letter’s sender was the infamous Butch Cassidy. Chatwin recounts Cassidy’s Patagonian sojourn over several pages, including some informed speculation about how he met his end.

Interestingly, Cassidy, according to Chatwin, gained momentum for his chosen career only after being frozen out of ranching by the famously bitter winter of 1886-87. That spurred me in a Chatwinesque segue, reminding me of another famous American celebrated in pop culture, known for his personality and a take-no-prisoners attitude: Theodore Roosevelt.

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