Blue Rodeo by Jo-Ann Mapson is set in the small community of Blue Dog, New Mexico in the shadow of Shiprock Mountain. Owen Garrett lives in a bunk house owned by an elderly couple and runs a small herd of sheep. He finds comfort in the company of his horse Red, and his three legged cattle dog. It wasn’t always like this; Owen once had a family, a wife and daughter. But he was susceptible to the taste of strong drink and lives lived in the haze of alcohol do often come asunder. A night of tragic violence, fueled on inebriation, changed everything. Now he tries to put it all behind him, staying sober and living life simply. As the book opens, Owen is noticing the charms of his new neighbor; she has legs that go on forever and lush, unruly red hair. He is getting a little more of a view of these charms than he might normally as his neighbor runs back and forth, clad in bright red panties and an old shirt, throwing water on Owen’s dog. The dog has also noticed the attraction of the new neighbor’s female dog, an animal in heat and willing to succumb to his wishes. Hence the water, which is not doing much toward cooling the canine’s ardor. Margaret Yearwood rented the elderly couples home and retreated to this small community when her marriage fell apart. Her teenaged son is enrolled in a boarding school for the deaf, refusing to have much to do with his mother, still trying to adjust to the recent loss of his hearing. Margaret used to have serious artistic aspirations; she set them aside for marriage and motherhood. Life in California on the waterfront, married to an attractive and successful man, was good until it all fell apart. Now she is trying to put her life back together and find out if she still has talent. These two damaged, wary people just might find a measure of comfort in each other’s company.
— Deon Stonehouse
Those who do not remember family history are condemned to repeat it...Haunted by a failed marriage, a resentful son left deaf by a bout of meningitis, and the slow death of her artistic aspirations, Margaret Yearwood takes refuge in Blue Dog, New Mexico. There, in the shadow of Shiprock Mountain, and in the unlikely arms of Owen Garrett, she finds the courage to love again, and to be loved. And she comes to realize that even the most primal wounds scar over and that there's nothing so renewable or so healing as passion. This is a bittersweet story of ordinary people who must learn to heal family bonds before they are permanently severed.
About the Author
Jo-Ann Mapson, a third generation Californian, grew up in Fullerton as a middle child with four siblings. She dropped out of college to marry, but later finished a creative writing degree at California State University, Long Beach. Following her son's birth in 1978, Mapson worked an assortment of odd jobs teaching horseback riding, cleaning houses, typing resumes, and working retail. After earning a graduate degree from Vermont College's low residency program, she taught at Orange Coast College for six years before turning to full-time writing in 1996. Mapson is the author of the acclaimed novels Shadow Ranch, Blue Rodeo, Hank Chloe, and Loving Chloe."The land is as much a character as the people," Mapson has said. Whether writing about the stark beauty of a California canyon or the poverty of an Arizona reservation, Mapson's landscapes are imbued with life. Setting her fiction in the Southwest, Mapson writes about a region that she knows well; after growing up in California and living for a time in Arizona and New Mexico, Mapson lives today in Cosa Mesa, California. She attributes her focus on setting to the influence of Wallace Stegner.Like many of her characters, Mapson has ridden horses since she was a child. She owns a 35-year-old Appaloosa and has said that she learned about writing from learning to jump her horse, Tonto. "I realized," she said, "that the same thing that had been wrong with my riding was the same thing that had been wrong with my writing. In riding there is a term called `the moment of suspension,' when you're over the fence, just hanging in the air. I had to give myself up to it, let go, trust the motion. Once I got that right, everything fell into place."