Picks and Pans Review: Nobody's Angel

updated 04/19/1982 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/19/1982 01:00AM

by Thomas McGuane

In McGuane's hands the old Western novel is gussied up in modern duds. His hero, Patrick Fitzpatrick, is a serious horseman and thinks he has to defend all womenfolk. An Army captain who commanded tanks in post-World War II Germany, he comes home to Montana. His father has died in a plane crash; his grandpa is barely managing the ranch; his unwed sister is pregnant and out of her mind. He falls in love with a rich man's wife and begins to feel superfluous. This is McGuane's fifth novel, and as always his prose is witty and evocative. Fitzpatrick at one point recalls how, "hunting coyotes, his grandfather had crawled into a cave near Blacktail and found a ceremonially dressed, mummified Indian warrior on a slab of rock. His grandfather refused to tell anyone where the corpse was, and Patrick wore out two saddle horses looking for it." Montana, where he lives most of the time, is to McGuane what Yoknapatawpha County was to Faulkner, a mythic place of discovery. This is a rewarding book, full of small truths. (Random House, $14.50 hardcover, $6.95 paper)

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