The Western setting of this closely focused narrative is a confirmation of the author’s identification with a region, as we know from his Western novels Desert Light and The Homestead and other nonfictional books relating to the West and to the border with Mexico.  The text itself, however, insists that this Western setting is more than the ground of the action, or perhaps we should say that the realization of this “more,” the sense of natural abundance and mystery, is the action itself.

As we first encounter Samuel Adams White, inspector with the United States Customs Bureau, his wife is telling him that he is the most boring person she has ever known and that she wants a divorce.  That she might have a point here for some reason or other is not a matter that the inspector of customs inspects, perhaps because he is unaccustomed to introspection.

Disoriented, he hesitates about his next step.  He wonders where he is going to live, but he finds out the hard way that this is not really the question before him.  Rather, he will have to deal with the question of whether he will live at all, and if so, as seems unlikely, of how he is going to live.  The inspector Samuel Adams White will have to take a good look at a lot of things, though that is difficult to do when he is bound and gagged and stuffed in a bag and abducted by criminals and is also having some trouble...

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