The western frontier was officially pronounced closed in 1890, the year Harvey Fergusson was born in Albuquerque. He spent his life reopening it in a series of novels stretching from the classic Wolf Song to the belatedly acclaimed Grant of Kingdom and The Conquest of Don Pedro. In this first full biography and critical study, Robert F. Gish sees Fergusson as a modern frontiersman in love with the outdoors, women, and writing. The scion of New Mexico family prominent in business and politics, Fergusson moved restlessly from one new frontier to another, always seeking to recreate in his life and work the adventure and freedom enjoyed by his ancestors. After a strenuous open-air life by the Rio Grande he went east to raise a ruckus us a journalist and then to Hollywood as a screenwriter, all the while testing his sexual mettle. Finally freelance writing was the only frontier available to one of his imaginative energy.
Fergusson's early novel Wolf Song is still considered one of the best ever written about the mountain man. Gish shows the writer embracing the gloriously masculine and atavistic role of a "lone rider" even as he scorned "the worship of the primitive." Fergusson struck up a friendship with H. L. Mencken and Theodore Dreiser (who influenced his literary style) and played a part in the development of Taos and Santa Fe as meccas for artists and writers.
Based on extensive research, including Fergusson's diaries and correspondence, Frontier's End goes a long way toward reconciling the regional with the mainstream in American literature in the person of a serious novelist whose importance is finally being recognized.
Robert F. Gish, was professor of English and literature at the University of Northern Iowa, and has recently retired as Director of Ethnic Studies and Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at California Polytechnic State University. For more information about the author, visit http://robertfgish.com.