• Mark Meier

What Next?

I recently finished reading the last book on my stack. I know, I know, I should have been getting more books all along, but it’s been busy.

Last night I wandered into my basement and looked over the books I’ve already read. There are thousands, and that’s after I culled the collection a couple of years ago. Hundreds went into the garage sale, and it was a sad day. They were likely books I’d never read again, but I hate to give up. They were my friends for so many years.

I looked over Salvatore, Card, McCaffrey, Hill, Smith, Baldwin, Anthony, and the myriad of series done by multiple authors. Star Wars, Star Trek, and more. Nothing really appealed to me. Eventually I ended up going to sleep without reading anything.

This morning, after finishing breakfast and cleaning up, I went back to the library. (Actually, “the” is kind of a misnomer. There are at least three other rooms which qualify.) Asimov, Bear, Niven, Herbert . . . maybe the Foundation trilogy again? Dune? Then my eyes were drawn to a stack I haven’t re-shelved.

THAT!

The Cowboy and the Cossack.

I’m not exactly a fan of Westerns. There are a (very) few I like, but only two spring to mind: Cowboy/Cossack, and Last of the Breed.

So today I’ll start in on Cowboy. It’s funny, touching, funny, heartbreaking, funny, enlightening, and did I mention it’s a laugh riot? Last time I read it I shared the “good parts” with Linda. I ended up reading her about two-thirds of the book.

Probably my favorite parts are at the beginning, where the cowboys are denied docking at the Russian port (they wanted bribes). So they open up the side of the cargo ship and stampede a herd of cattle into the stormy sea off Russia’s east coast.

A Russian mayor won’t let the cowboys into town to buy supplies (he wanted a bribe), so the lead cowboy pulls out a cigarette, lights it, and shoves the lit match into the man’s beard. To “warm” the cold cattle they soaked a pile of oats with vodka and fed the herd until they were drunk.

I contend I’m doing this book terrible justice. The hilarity is throughout, I won’t give any more spoilers, and I will stop embarrassing myself by trying to describe it.

Suffice it to say, I thoroughly love this book and I’ll be reading it for probably the fifth time.

Which is okay, because I’ve probably bought it a dozen times and given the copies away.

That’s how much I enjoy it.



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