Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Little Bit About Reid Rosenthal

Reid is fourth generation land and cattle. His cowboy heart and poet’s pen captures the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers. His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the people—both past and present—who leave their legend and footprint upon America and the American West is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing.


"I was musing the other day while taking a break from writing Maps of Fate, the second book of my Threads West, An American Saga series. I paced over to the window. Misty shadows of snow squalls clung to the mountains around the ranch house. I looked back at the desk. Threads West, the bestselling first book of the series nestled side by side with my camera. My eyes widened as an epiphany struck me. Each is a tool for expression in image or word, and has as a central theme the power of the land, and the primal role that energy plays in shaping passions, lives and spirits.

Since I began writing the series, I am always accompanied by a small dictation device. For forty years it has been rare that I ventured anywhere without a camera. 

My poor photo gear has been rolled on by horses, accompanied me on various fishing expeditions and been forgotten and then retrieved on cold snowy ridges during elk season after long return hikes. A few unfortunate pieces have even taken a swim with me when I lost my footing and drifted and tumbled down some river somewhere in North or South America. My dictation tool has been similarly abused. The perils of equipment in the wild and remote!

The incredibly wide range of subjects and styles of authors intrigue me. I am also fascinated by the varying styles of different photographers and disparate aptitudes certain artists have for a range of subject matter. 

I am a landscape photographer. The camera and Threads West side by side on the desk brought home sudden realization. I am also a landscape writer. The land is as much a character in my books as it is the predominate image of my photos. That flows, I suppose, from the affinity I have always felt with the energy that radiates from landscape. It is my touchstone. 

I am fascinated by and simply love to photograph or write of the endless variety of light, shape, angle and seasons of the land. There is no second of any minute, of any hour, of any day of any millennium which is exactly the same in any terrain.

The season, sun aspect, clouds, weather, time of day, angle of shadow, and wind are all ingredients in the ever changing and never duplicated recipe of a landscape photograph. So too are they the critical elements in penning a descriptive scene. The instant in which the image is created can never be duplicated. It is the only recording of that particular millisecond of that scene from that specific vantage that carries into infinity.

I smiled as another parody struck me. Right on the front page of my website, are not only discussions of my books but the precursor to the site’s landscape photos pages!

I became more excited as the full force of my discovery struck me. Papers flew everywhere as I pawed the cluttered desk surface for a copy of my “fiction author biography,” and some blogs I had posted on my website long prior to completion of Threads West. I found them finally and held one in each hand looking back and forth.

From the Photo Blog:

“This spring morning the land was particularly vibrant. Wildflowers dotted the southern flanks of gentle rolls of prairie. Grasses fluttered lightly in a soft breeze. They shimmered and danced like ripples of sea waves across the landscape. Along the base of a particularly beckoning series of low sandstone bluffs stretched a riparian ribbon of emerald slightly darker than the coming summer greening of the grass around it. Across the top of the miniature butte, a bright almost ethereal mist began to rise and form. 

As I ascended a distinct game trail along the side of the tiny cliffs my eyes became level with the top surface of the butte. The density of mist had increased. It chugged and boiled slowly along the top of the stony surface. Each seductive billow and hollow created a visual incident which appeared, then disappeared, and then materialized again, ghostly, with prisms of color that trembled as the sun caught the movement of the vapors. A magical dance of ground rainbows. 

Directly in front of me, my eyes still level with the surface of the top of the warming rocks was a cluster of foxtail. They were bathed in sunlight, their pine cone like tips bristled with soft feathery golden spires, a perfect foreground to the rainbows performing on the stage of earth just behind them.”

From My Fiction Author Biography:

“If your mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze, and the crimson tendrils of dying sun…if your fingers feel the silken pulse of a lover and your lips taste the deep kisses of building passion…if nostrils flare with the conjured scents of gunpowder and perfume, sage brush and pine, and your ears delight in the murmur of river current…if your heart pounds at the clash of good and evil and with each twist and turn of interwoven lives you feel a primal throb, then I have accomplished my mission.” ~Reid L. Rosenthal, author of Threads West, An American Saga. 

I have found new purpose and energy (not that I have ever lacked either) in my prose and photographic expression now that I have become cognizant of their synergy. They are both of the land, the stage upon which we and the characters in my novels line dance in a fleeting moment of existence, to then be replaced by the shoulder taps of successive generations. The only character or image that survives all the previous and the entirety of chapters or photograph yet to come is the land itself.

The epic saga of Threads West begins in 1855 with the first of four richly-textured, complex generations of unforgettable characters. The separate lives of these driven men and independent women are drawn to a common destiny that beckons seductively from the wild and remote flanks of the American West. They are swept into the dangerous currents of the far-distant frontier by the mysterious rivers of fate, the power of the land and the American spirit. Their turbulent journeys are heartbreaking quests intertwined with romance and adversity, passions and pathos, despair and triumph. 

This is not only their story. It is our story.

It is Threads West: An American Saga.

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