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Behind the Mountains


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Most of these stories originally appeared in the New Yorker before they were published in book form in 1956. Based on accounts by La Farge's wife, Consuelo Baca, of her family's 20,000-head sheep ranch in the mountains of Rociada, N.M., this long out-of-print volume is intended, as La Farge says in the foreword, ``to record a fair picture of a way of life that has ceased to exist.'' Indeed, the subject matter‘a unique, almost feudal, Spanish-based Southwestern lifestyle that ended with the Depression‘is certainly worth tracing. Though overall a charming rendition, La Farge's quaint touch sometimes clouds the scene's engaging particulars, which include tales of a handsome horse thief, a wedding of truly grand proportions and the superstitions of Rociada's mixed Mexican, Spanish and Native American culture. Most provocative is ``The News from Rociada,'' which tells how Canuto, the ``Alabama Negro'' who became part of the Baca household, buys his own small ranch in Rociada after the family loses theirs. Added to this reprint are pictures of the Baca family, biographical information about La Farge (who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1929 novel, Laughing Boy) and an afterword tracing what happened to the family members‘all provided by the couple's son, John Pen La Farge. (Mar.)

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