The Honyocker
by Giles Lutz

A short novel that won the Spur Award as the best western of the year 1961. Honyocker is the term of derision applied to farmers by cattle ranchers in Montana. The novel is about the tension and prejudice between these two groups and how it warps perceptions on both sides and escalates to hatred and violence. The hero is a young man caught in the middle. He is a Honyocker who goes to work for a cattle rancher to work off a debt created by his no-good brothers when they were caught butchering one of the rancher’s cows. By working for a rancher he came to be regarded as a turncoat by other farmers, and his girlfriend’s father forbade him to see her.

The book contains information on the poor soil and inappropriateness of the farming techniques used by the honyockers and the harshness of the climate and the prairie fires that make it perilous to even raise cattle here. The writing is good except for the first page.

Year Read: 2007

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