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Four years before Annie Proulx’s story “Brokeback Mountain” appeared in the New Yorker, William Haywood Henderson published Native, the tale of three gay men ensnared in the politics and prejudices of an isolated ranching town in Wyoming’s Wind River Valley. Blue Parker, a careful twenty-three-year-old ranch foreman, in love with the West and his home in the mountains, finds himself drawn to his new ranch hand, Sam. For the first time in his life, Blue feels the possibility of a romantic connection, and he makes tentative plans to secret himself and Sam away in an idyllic camp high in the mountains. But the arrival in town of Gilbert, a Native American from the Wind River Indian Reservation, a man who fancies himself a modern-day berdache (or Two-Spirit), pushes Blue and Sam in unexpected, dangerous directions. Gilbert attempts to recreate the ancient traditions of his people, but the world has changed. Ultimately, Gilbert must try to find a new place for himself in society, and Blue must choose between his home and protecting the man he loves.
About the Author
William Haywood Henderson teaches writing at the nonprofit Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado, and is the author of The Rest of the Earth and Augusta Locke. Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a professor of creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso and the author of books of poetry, collections of short stories, and several novels, most recently Names on a Map.
“The poignancy with which Henderson unfolds his tale is both graceful and horrific. Native is a book to make one think—and think again.”—Village Voice
“Henderson’s moody, near mystical evocation of the Western heart owes more to the spirit of The Scarlet Letter than to Louis L’Amour. Native is a cowboy story unlike any other.”—Boston Globe
“This is an original novel, a stereotype-shattering vision of the American West and its people.”—Hudson Review
“With Native, Henderson instantly joins the company of [Edward] Abbey, Tom Spanbauer, and Larry McMurtry as a writer with a unique and compelling vision of the modern West and a talent to put that vision into words.”—Echo
“Dazzling. . . . Reveals the gift and power of an exceptional writer.”—Advocate
"Native is a thoroughly western novel about longing and about the implied promises of the landscape to answer the longing of solitary, gay men who simultaneously yearn for isolation and connection. . . . It is the complexity, the pain, and the ambivalence of these men that make Henderson's Native compelling."—Elizabeth Abele, Western American Literature
— Elizabeth Abele