Start: 7:00 pm
End: 8:30 pm
In the tradition of such classics as My Ántonia and There Will Be Blood, Anna Keesey’s Little Century is a resonant and moving debut novel by a writer of confident gifts.
Orphaned after the death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Esther
Chambers heads west in search of her only living relative. In the
lawless frontier town of Century, Oregon, she’s met by her distant
cousin, a laconic cattle rancher named Ferris Pickett. Pick leads her to
a tiny cabin by a small lake called Half-a-Mind, and there she begins
her new life as a homesteader. If she can hold out for five years, the
land will join Pick’s already impressive spread.
But Esther discovers that this town on the edge of civilization is in
the midst of a range war. There’s plenty of land, but somehow it is not
enough for the ranchers—it’s cattle against sheep, with water at a
premium. In this charged climate, small incidents of violence swiftly
escalate, and Esther finds her sympathies divided between her cousin and
a sheepherder named Ben Cruff, a sworn enemy of the cattle ranchers. As
her feelings for Ben and for her land grow, she begins to see she can’t
be loyal to both.
Little Century maps our country’s cutthroat legacy of
dispossession and greed, even as it celebrates the ecstatic visions of
what America could become.