Book Review: News of the World

The prose and descriptions in this story from post-Civil War America are strongly reminiscent of Larry McMurtry. But this is a wholly original story. There is nothing derivative about it.
The plot centers around an aging veteran of several conflicts – dating back to his participation in the War of 1812. At 71, he has raised a family, buried his wife and makes his living traveling among backwater towns in Texas to deliver the sometimes mystifying and often spellbinding news from exotic places like Chicago, New York and London. In the midst of his travels he is engaged to transport a 10-year-old white girl who has been ransomed from the Kiowa Indians and needs to be returned to her aunt and uncle.
True to historical experience, she does not make the transition back to “civilization” easily and perhaps not ever completely. But the progression of her relationship with Captain Kidd is very interesting to see, and the reflection on cultures and what defines human happiness is especially vivid and thought provoking.
This is not an epic novel of the late 19th century West, but it is a uniquely focused one, and it has profoundly interesting reflections for our own time.