Een herontdekte “cult classic”: het “andere” boek van John Williams, auteur van Stoner, is Butcher’s Crossing (1960). Prachtig western-verhaal, waarin de hoofdpersoon, net afgestudeerd aan Harvard, het avontuur zoekt in het Wilde Westen. Gap year in the West, en kijk eens: het hotel is de startplek vanwaar het avontuur begint. De horizon lonkt, wat heeft de prairie te bieden?
….Andrews is a young man from Harvard who wants to discover real life by hunting buffalo. He travels to Butcher’s Crossing and waits there at the only hotel of the town, for Miller, the huntsman, to return with provisions for the buffalo hunt….
“..Andrews spent much of his time in his hotel room; he lay on the thin mattress of his narrow bed and gazed at the bare walls, the roughly planked floor, the flat low ceiling….
From that room he could see nearly all the town; when he discovered that he could take the gauze-covered frame out of the window, he spent many hours sitting there, his arms folded on the lower frame of the window opening. His gaze alternated between the town itself, which seemed to move in a sluggish erratic rhythm like the pulse of some brute existence, and the surrounding country….his mind was filled with some of the wonder he had known as a child. As if it were an intimation of some knowledge he had long ago lost, he thought now of those early explorers who had set out upon another waste, salt and wide. He remembered hearing of the superstition that told them they would come to a sharp brink, and sail over it, and fall forever from the world in space and darkness. The legends had not kept them back, he knew; but he wondered how often, in their lonely sailing, they had intimations of depthless plunge, and how often they were repeated in their dreams. Looking at the horizon, he could see the line waver in the rising heat of the day; by late afternoon, with the rising winds, the line became indistinct, merged with the sky, and to the west was a vague country, whose limits and extents were undefined. [John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing, first published 1960, this edition Vintage 2014, p. 42-43]