“Meyers has the enviable ability to set a scene or evoke an emotion with hardly more than a flick of his pen.”
Harold Burton Meyers
Geronimo’s Ponies and Reservations
Two critically-praised works of fiction by Harold Burton Meyers— the novella Geronimo’s Ponies and Reservations, a novel, together in one volume—draw on the author’s Depression boyhood on Navajo, Hopi and Zuñi Indian reservations as the son of U.S. Indian Service schoolteachers.
Both center on Will and Mary Parker and their son Davey. In Geronimo’s Ponies (selected by Jane Smiley as winner of the National Novella Award), Mary's brother Eph schemes to sell Indian horses in Texas as saddle ponies. Joining in, Davey meets his boisterous Texas relatives, but encounters complications that help him grow up.
In Reservations a vast landscape populated by memorable characters leaps to life. In poignant episodes based on lived experience and created with literary force Meyers dramatizes the fight within FDR’s Indian Service between those like Davey’s parents who wish to keep Indian children at home and within their own culture, and “assimiliationists” intent on de-Indianizing them at boarding schools. Will sponsors an experiment using schoolbuses to increase day-school enrollment and Mary mentors students and colleagues despite opposition from all quarters.
Readers will find Geronimo’s Ponies and Reservations to be two of recent American fiction’s richest works.
Smash-and-Grab Press 2021 paper $15, 366 pp., ISBN 979-8-9850215-0-9
Excerpt (.pdf)   Reviews from the original publication of Geronimo’s Ponies and Reservations
A Hero of Brag
In A Hero of Brag, Harold Burton Meyers revisits his family’s pioneer roots in a saga that sweeps from Civil War Mississippi to the plains of early 20th-century Texas.
Family founder Amos Gower enlists in the Confederate Army at 15. His war dismal and brief, he finds himself son-in-law to a dead officer whose heroism he brags on as his own. Becoming a West Texas rancher—and patriarch of a tumultuous progeny—Amos blames a curse from the bank robber whose hanging he botched for his reversal of fortune. Fearing posterity’s verdict on a life he had lost track of&mdashhis own&mdashAmos hears from his wife that he’s just “a hero of brag.”
Perceptive and beautifully written, A Hero of Brag brings exciting chapters of American history to life.
Smash-and-Grab Press 2021 paper $15, 316 pp., ISBN 978-1-7368333-4-6; ebook 978-1-7368333-5-3
Burt Meyers was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1924 and died in Williamsburg, Virginia on October 6, 2023. His Indian Service schoolteacher parents raised him and his brothers on various reservations in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. After serving in World War II with the Navy in the Pacific, Meyers graduated from the University of Colorado’s journalism school and became a newspaper reporter. In 1956 he joined Time magazine and covered civil rights, Capitol Hill and the White House. In 1962 he was a founding editor of the short-lived monthly newsmagazine USA*1, then joined Fortune, from which he retired in 1987.
Above: Burt Meyers holds a water jar given his mother by her friend who made it, the great potter Catalina Zunie (“Mother Zunie,” 1862-1949). He has since donated it to the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary in memory of Sallie Key Meyers. Photos: David M. Doody
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