Robert Laxalt's classic allegorical tale of good versus evil is now available in paperback. Robert Laxalt's first novel, A Man in the Wheatfield, was published to critical acclaim when it was released in 1964. Time magazine lauded it as ""a fascinating, ambiguous allegory of men's various ways of confronting fear,"" and The Cleveland Plain Dealer proclaimed it ""an emotional experience and a memorable one."" Nearly four decades later Laxalt's deeply moving story of a small community in the high deserts of Nevada still resonates with readers. ""I realize now that while I was writing this book, I was exploring for myself the meanings of such overused words as good, envy, ego, hypocrisy, innocence, symbol, myth. We all know the meanings of these words. We learned the meanings early - at home, school, church. They were taught to us by our culture. And like all the meanings of words describing the human condition, we don't know them at all, until we have to discover them all over again for ourselves,"" said Robert Laxalt about his motivation for writing A Man in the Wheatfield. Laxalt relays his shocking story simply and concisely. Father Savio Lazzaroni is obsessed with a vision of evil. Mayor Manuel Cafferata is only concerned with his own standing in a tiny village peopled with Italian immigrants. Into their isolated town comes Smale Calder, the first outsider to set up business in the tightly knit society. The events that befall these three men and the villagers reveal the chilling ways in which people deal with fear and prejudice. When Calder's secret passion for rattlesnakes is discovered, the lives of all involved are changed in a dramatic sequence of emotions and events. Laxalt's quiet, build up of suspense and violence will sneak up on the readers and leave them questioning the meaning of good and innocence.
Robert Laxalt wrote seventeen books during his nearly half-century career, including Sweet Promised Land and, his last work. Travels with My Royal (see page 22). His writings defined the Nevada spirit and Basque culture in America. He died in 2001.