Confluence Poets

West of the Gospel, by W. John MacGregor

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A cryptic Western tale of identity and redemption set on the Idaho frontier, this tale from W. John MacGregor plays out amidst the catastrophic Big Burn of August, 1910: devastating and terrifying wildfires which destroyed millions of acres, burned scores of towns, and killed nearly one hundred fire-fighters and civilians. The hero of the story is a ranch hand whose coming of age during the final throes of the Old West has given him several identities: Tad Montgomery, the boy whose father was a notorious strike-breaker and killer; Thaddeus Roe, the law-abiding and sometimes heroic young man whose parents were brutally slain by the lawless Fewkes brothers; and Three Card Monte, the desperado (so the legends say) that he has now become. The tension produced by these three identities comes to a head as the fires of August, 1910, flare to epic proportions. Can the principles by which Tad has lived see him through this trial by fire? Is he defined by the sins of his earthly father? The answer is held not so much in the historical facts, such as they are; rather, the answer is in the heart of the reader. Inspired by a genuine mystery which falls out of the accounts of the Big Burn, this tale of rough men in rougher times leaves the reader with no easy outs, and there is no omniscient narrator to serve as a guide. Where does the truth lie? Maybe in a place just West of the Gospel... and just East of Eden. West of the Gospel, by W. John MacGregor, is the first entry in a series of tales based on the legends of the Fewkes Brothers, outlaws of the Pacific Northwest.