Monday, November 19, 2012

The New Mexico of John Nichols

I think I will always have a soft spot for the author John Nichols.  Over the years he has published several books, both fiction and non fiction, about New Mexico and every one looks at the state in such a wonderful and humorous way.  Usually his fiction takes place in made up or unnamed towns in New Mexico, but they offer such great composites of all the little towns in the northern part of the state.  Places like Truchas, El Rito, Taos, and Espanola have obviously influenced his writing, including his most famous book, The Milagro Beanfield War

The Milagro Beanfield War was published almost forty years ago, yet it brings up issues that a problem in New Mexico even today.  The story revolves mostly around Joe Mondragon who sets off a chain of events when he waters his fields with water that is not technically his.  Water rights have been a hot topic of debate since New Mexico first became a territory of the United States and John Nichols explains this issue with candor and humor.  Little has changed in New Mexico since The Milagro Beanfield War first came out, so the story, with its colorful cast of characters, is still relevant reading.  The other two books in the so called New Mexico Trilogy, The Magic Journey and The Nirvana Blues have the trademark Nichols humor, but they seem to lack the charm of the first one. 

Just recently Nichols published a book called On Top of Spoon Mountain about a writer who is determined to make it to the top of a mountain he used to climb in his youth.  Reading this book made me remember what I love about John Nichols like how his writing makes me laugh, or how much I love northern New Mexico and all its quirky charm, or how I appreciate the indignant voice he uses when discussing environmental issues.  Reading his books can be hit or miss -- sometimes I love them and sometimes I hate them, but when he gets it right his writing is near perfection.

Thank you, John Nichols for writing so many great books about The Land of Enchantment!

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