The New Yorker has made the story available online only to subscribers.
About his twenty-something son, imprisoned on drug charges, Szabo muses, “The body he had acquired in the weight room seemed to suit his current burdened personality.”
The reality, though, is that no one in this story is without baggage; each one labors under an array of emotional and moral burdens. Among these troubled family members, need and greed become nearly interchangeable, especially under the disruptive influence of the newly hired ranch hand.
At no time does anyone ask a question that perforates their own bubble of self-concern. In one way or another, all these characters are consumed with their own version of “What’s in it for me?” It’s a well-written cautionary tale about the debilitating effects of curating limited horizons.
Thomas McGuane is the author of fifteen books — novels, story collections, and essays. Author Maile Meloy likes his most recent novel, Driving on the Rim: “As with McGuane’s earlier novels, the rambling plot is sustained because the individual episodes are a pleasure, often farcical and always acutely observed, and because the hero is sympathetic in his dissociated journey.”