Words seldom let me down. Trace the word history to its Greek root, historia, and you learn that its means ''finding out.'' Mountain City
is far more story than dry representation of fact. It is precisely a finding out, in the deepest sense of the term. Gregory Martin crafts this very particular slice of American history as part memoir, part poetry (poetry being that intense sense of experience merged with desire for the truth). He steps away from Mountain City, Nevada, just far enough to notice the essentials of place -- how relationship undergirds geography, how isolation and solitude make a community (even a dying one) whole. His language is spare and poignant but not sentimental. By turning from self-consciousness, he faces the truth of the place head on -- wild and dying. Alive as it is.
An Eighth Day View:
By the end of Gregory Martin's unsentimental but affecting memoir, only thirty-one people live in remote Mountain City, Nevada, and none of them are children. The town's abandoned mines are testimony to the cycle of promise, exploitation, abandonment, and attrition that has been the repeated story of the West. Yet the comings and goings at Tremewan's, the general store Martin's family has run for more than forty years, reveal a remarkably vibrant community that includes salty widows, Native Americans from a nearby reservation, and a number of Martin's deeply idiosyncratic Basque-descended relatives. Martin observes them as they persist in a difficult but rewarding existence and celebrates, with neither pity nor regret, the large and small dramas of their lives and their stubborn attachment to a place that seems likely to disappear in his lifetime.