"Go East, Young Man"
(Reviewed by Clint Hunter JAN 1, 2009)
Harrison Lebowitz, founder of the Snow Farm Vineyard and former Assistant Attorney General for the state of Vermont, makes his debut as an author with a humorous and innovative novel which might best be described as literary slapstick. Go East, Young Man is a tale of the modern-day West which Lebowitz packs full of larger than life characters and a tongue in cheek premise that makes for a laugh or two and an enjoyable weekend of reading.
Tex Eugene Henry, owner of a Texas cattle ranch named the Old Miss Ranch which was located close to the San Jacinto River (the owner mistook the San Jacinto River for the Mississippi River) and “smack dab in the middle of a triangle formed by the towns of Cut and Shoot, Security and Grangerland,” knew that the low prices for beef in the area was cutting into his income. What he never anticipated was that the local banker, E. Lister, would finally get tired of non-receipt of his over due payments on his loan to the ranch and decide to call Tex’s loan.
Now faced with the loss of his ranch, Henry consults with his ranch hands as to their best alternatives and they come up with a solution to his dilemma. After studying their out of date maps, discussing various plans of action, and surveying beef prices across the country, they decide that the best place to sell their cattle must be New York City. After all, beef prices in New York were the highest in the country and what’s more, New York City had Central Park which looked large enough to graze their cattle.
After much planning, the cattle drive begins as does the avalanche of problems to be addressed and overcome by the stalwart cattle herders. Among them are meals which from time to time are loaded with bugs of all kinds or composed of steer tail soup, a horse that succumbs to internal combustion, a gun battle with cattle rustlers, a little misunderstanding with Tyler, Texas officials as they drive their cattle through the annual Rose Queen Pageant, heavy snow storms and ice covered rivers, discovering that E. Lister and a posse of armed thugs are on their trail wanting to confiscate the herd, and an unexpected meeting with the mayor of New York City. As good cowboys always do, the unflappable cowhands take each obstacle as it comes and deal with it on their own terms.
Go East, Young Man’s story line is narrated by Henry’s youngest boy, Even, who refers to Tex Eugene Henry only as “Pa” and while Lebowitz seems to revel in constructing a pseudo and stereotypical lingo for Even and the Texas cowhands, the jargon became a bit of a distraction for me. As I began to read, it took me a little while to get accustomed to the mispronounced syntax and in some passages it almost overshadowed the story itself. Nevertheless, this is an engaging and entertaining novel and a formidable beginning for a talented new writer with a great sense of humor.
- Amazon readers rating: from 3 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Go East, Young Man at mostlyfiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Go East, Young Man (December 2008)
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- Official website for Go East, Young Man
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About the Author:
Harrison Lebowitz and his wife, Molly, started Snow Farm Vineyard, Vermont’s first commercial vineyard and grape winery in 1996, as a way to keep land open and working in Vermont. This has nothing to do with his writing, but neither did his past career as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont.
He did, however, have his musical “Special Deliveries” produced in New York City.
Harrison and Molly live with their two children, Tess and Jared, in Vermont.