Saturday, November 24, 2018

Telluride Top of the World

Old West Spars with New West

Old West values with frontier roots meet the New West during the turbulent 70's in SW Four Corners with Tom Tatum's newest book Telluride Top of the World. It's a western adult adventure story, the second novel of a planned trilogy set in a decade fraught with greed, casual sex and drugs as ranchers strove to protect their land and retain their senior water rights as ski developers moved into the Rocky Mountain towns. Due to strong language and sexual content this powerful book is for mature audiences only.

The novel's cover is cropped from Kathryn Tatum's oil painting “Roof Top of the World.” Her painting conveys the real life emotions of being on a snow-covered mountain top and skiing down into the town of Telluride.

Stuart Cooper, the protagonist, is an idealistic adventurer and Peace Corps volunteer readers meet in Tatum's first book Fiji 1970. Telluride Top of The World is Cooper's coming home story in the 70's after the Vietnam War to a changing USA. Upon Cooper's return to his family ranch, YbarC, that he inherited from his father and grandfather, he finds the ranch on the brink of bankruptcy. Cooper fights to defend the ranch's vast land and senior water rights from the Ajax Ski Company and other land developers. He takes on land grabbing, money driven, river damming developers with an old fashioned gun fight. Cooper strives to bring his ranch to its former glory despite being sabotaged by corruption, betrayal and murder as he prepares for an all out war. He is joined by a cast of characters which include miners, drug dealers, ski bums, a prostitute, loyal family members, Indian mystics, Ute and Navajo tribal members, bankers and law enforcement.

Tatum brings credibility to his writing as he crafts Cooper's story by using his personal experiences as a Telluride resident for some 40 years, travels through the Four Corners region for extreme sports, a ranch owner, an attorney with vast knowledge of western water rights, energy development, Utes and Navajo culture and producer and director of action/adventure sports TV programs/documentaries.

Tatum's writing displays strong feelings about the importance of conservation and stewardship evidenced through the choices Cooper makes to protect his land and water rights. Tatum hopes readers will see that the protagonist Cooper will always continue a fight on moral high ground for Native American rights, the protection of nature or natural rights, and world cultural rights. Tatum has posted updated blogs on the issues of western US treatment of Native Americans and western water rights introduced in the novel on his website.

Tatum's descriptive landscape passages embrace the beauty of the land that surrounds the SW community of the Four Corners. It is his hope that with careful conservation of natural resources and land as well as dedication to building strong partnerships with Native American groups, agricultural and businesses in the Four Corner region, these resources will be available for generations to come.

Telluride Top of the World presents complex character relationships and thought provoking issues with fast paced action. Readers will be swept up by the story with many twists, turns and surprises.
Check Tatum's website for future book events, additional information about the author, and blogs on current issues in the Southwest.
This book review can found in Telluride Planet news publication.

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