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A Novel
By Nelson Martin

Includes Readers Guide


This twisting tale, the prequel to the author’s Ring Around the Sun, takes Coot Boldt and Narlow Montgomery back to their childhood in the wilds of the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico Territory and west Texas. The story tracks their days tending Papa’s goats, and Narlow’s war with his copper-lined, half-Pale Eye-half-Comanche mama. The boys lived with the Apaches for two years where Narlow studied the mysteries of the medicineman. As young men, they enjoyed successes in ranching and land sales in El Paso, a dusty adobe village known for whiskey, shot-dead men on its streets, soiled doves, and rigged roulette wheels.

Both their marriages went sour, and though Coot went on, Narlow was stuck with a wife who never allowed the consummation of their vows. All those months Narlow brushed off Coot’s advice to take up with a widow-lady, but during a trip to San Francisco, he fell into the clutches of a wealthy actress who demanded that he return home and divorce his wife. He refused, though he did return to El Paso and become the town drunk. Finally, he was convinced by his father and Coot to seek the solitude of a cave where, as a child, he had played with his father, a man who made sawhorses with straw-stuffed sock heads, eyes drawn with charcoal, and read the great books to his son.

Narlow won his battle over the bottle.

Nelson Martin is a native of southern New Mexico, west Texas, and northern Chihuahua region, tramped, fished, and hunted its deserts, knows the dust and pungent desert aroma after a drought, recalls steam locomotives with eight-foot driver-wheels racing south out of Las Cruces toward El Paso, witnessed a jaguar coming out of Chihuahua on the rail line along the border to Columbus just past the West Portrillo Mountains, isolated to this day.

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