koboi music. yeah, country music. and really, i didnt mind the 'seven Spanish angels' playing over and over from my elder brother's car's stereo on our way back home to Ranau. we even discussed the lyrics and debated over it. Willie Nelson is a gem!
so, when a book mentioned of a bookish lead character resembling Willie Nelson, i have to have the book. and the book didn't disappoint me. though, at first, i fear the book will be too heady for me. its the winner for 2004 Bellwether Prize for fiction.
Editor/publisher of a dying weekly newspaper Fairbanks Mercury, Gus Traynor narrated the story of his personal struggle with his personal matters, career and his close ring of friends and family.
the story reminded me so much of my own people. back in the 60's-70's, when timber tycoons raided our native land, my people were poorly educated to understand and estimate the value of the produce. they were given a very, very small fraction of money as compensation and to those lucky enough to get more than other people, they were drowned in the 'luxury', alcoholism is one of the by-product (not to mention that the Dusuns are always heavy drinker). still, the majority of my people failed to climb out of poverty, while the outsiders tapped on our natural resources and prosper. more than half of the land in Ranau (of any commercial value) belong to outsider and the locals work as kuli for the new land owner. pathetic? hopeless? heart breaking truth? at least, Gus Traynor was an outsider. Try being a local and not being able to do anything to help correcting the landscape (or rather, stopping the erosion).
it still hurt when i remember a nasty comment from a friend who, half-jokingly said "Bapa kau beli 4-wheel drive? dia jual tanah kamurang?".
*pics are from google image