Excerpt from The Final Country by James Crumley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Final Country

A Milo Milodragovitch Novel

by James Crumley

The Final Country
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2002, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

At the end of summer before my senior year in high school, during that brief period between the time my job pulling the green chain at the mill ended and two-a-day football practices started, I had a free weekend. My football buddies and I had filled the backs of our rigs with ice and cases of Great Falls Select, then driven up a jeep trail deep in the Diablo Mountains to my grandfather's land so we could celebrate our brief release by getting shit-faced in the wilderness, a hoary Montana tradition.

We built a huge fire and drank ourselves stupid as we danced half-naked around it, as innocently savage as any beasts that ever lived. Until the bear showed up. About midnight, a curious black bear cub, drawn by the noise or the smell of the burned elk burgers, nosed into the circle of firelight, sniffing as if he wanted to join the dance.

Once when my father and I were fly fishing up Six Mile, a black bear had come up to the bluff across the creek. I must have been four or five, old enough to be curious and young enough to be nervous. He told me that if I wanted the bear to move on to bark like a dog. I barked as loud and long as I could. The sow scrambled up the nearest tree. "Sometimes, they'll do that," my Dad said. So when I saw the cub, I started barking. Within moments, my buddies had joined me, and the little devil scooted up a bull pine, where he swung precariously from a thick branch, hissing and spitting like a tomcat.

We laughed like madmen at the frightened cub, swept by gales of drunken mirth, until I spun and fell on my back at the base of the pine, my mouth wide open. The cub spit straight down into my mouth, a skunky stream of saliva, more solid than liquid, which I swallowed before I could stop. An electric moment. Suddenly I was sober and sorry for the cub. But I couldn't stop my friends from laughing and barking. I punched and shoved and wrestled them, but they thought I was crazy and wouldn't stop. I fought them to a standstill. Or until they got tired of beating on me. Nobody remembers which came first. Then they decided what they really needed was a road trip to the whorehouses in Wallace, Idaho, another hoary Montana tradition, so they drove down the mountain, leaving me with a couple of six-packs and a very sore head. I sat by the dying fire until dawn, the stink of the bear in my mouth, my nose, and seeping through my guts. The raspy sound of the bear's breath echoed in my head. When the sun cleared the saddle below Hammerhead Peak, we both went home. I never looked at a bear the same way again—or my friends, for that matter—and never got that wild taste out of my mouth. Leave me alone, fool, it seemed to say, we're in this shit together.

Something else had changed that night, too, but I didn't know what until much later. Turned out that it was the end of my childhood. After football season, after a shouting match with my crazy, drunken mother-she had accused me of only going hunting in eastern Montana so I could go whoring in Livingston like my worthless, dead father, which was only half-true—I said I was leaving for good, and she said "good riddance to bad rubbish." Three days later she signed the papers lying about my age, and I was in the Army, where I learned a bitter lesson about fear. But I never lost the taste of that bear. We were brothers, somehow, in this life and death together.


I shook Gannon's hand, reluctantly. Whatever had happened in Long's office, and whatever Enos Walker had done, he was a man like me. If he lived long enough to make it to court, chances were, with the testimony of the bartender and me, Walker could cop a self-defense or involuntary manslaughter plea and wouldn't have to die at the hands of a state I found much too fond of the needle. I knew the sweet taste of revenge, but living in a place that killed people with such casual aplomb made me a little jumpy. In the long run the death penalty had nothing to do with revenge or deterrence. It was just a way for the fools to get elected.


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    In the Country of Men
    by Hisham Matar
    Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some ...
  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.