A Review: An Accidental Cowboy



NOTE: This review is NOT a review of the book, instead this is a review of MY reaction to the book and really, who cares about that?? If you’d like a much less fan-girl review of this wonderful book, please read this post. 

612426I have no real desire to meet celebrities. I don’t want to hob-nob with people whose names are a household word. I don’t want to meet movie or television stars, I have no desire to meet the royal family, or the President of the United States.  At one point in time over the past nearly 5 decades of life on planet earth I might have had this desire, but if I did it is long gone now.

However, I do have a very short list of people with some level of renown that I would very much like to meet. Only 4 names comprise my list. I would like to meet former President George W. Bush. I want to stick my hand out and say, “Hi! I’m Virginia. Thank you so very much!” and be on my merry way.

I want to meet Beth Moore. I want to sit with her over a plate of nachos and cups of coffee. I want to be able to “pick her brain”, to pepper her with questions. I want to revel in our mutual sharing of all things Jesus.

I would like to meet Tom Selleck. He was a hero of mine 30 years ago. His poster hung over my bed. He just looks like a very kind, nice man.  I want to, again, stick my hand out and say, “Hi! I’m Virginia. Thank you for helping me get through some very difficult years.”

The last name on the list is Jameson Parker.  But this man is one I don’t want to shake hands with, I don’t want to say, “Hi! I’m Virginia, thank you!” No. This is a man I want to throw my arms around his neck in a full-on frontal hug and whisper in his ear, “Thank you so very much, dearest friend!” I want to choke on the words as I’m choking on them now.

Jameson wrote a memoir, a memoir to end all memoirs.  In 1992, he was shot and very nearly killed by, what I would call, a madman. An Accidental Cowboy is the story of that. He ends the first chapter, before you ever read of the tragedy he experienced, with:

“I start to walk, fast, very fast, and then to run, faster, harder, farther, farther. I will never be able to run fast enough or far enough, yet I will run to a world I have never dreamed of, a life I have never imagined. I will run all the way to a ranch in the Sierras”

No, that day he doesn’t literally run from the streets of Seattle to a ranch in the Sierras, but over time he does. His heart constantly runs in an attempt to get away from the demons that haunt his mind.

This is another book I don’t want to give to much away because you just really need to read this book. Here is what I will tell you though, through Jameson’s writing I traveled the road from Caliente to Twin Oaks. I rode shotgun in his truck as we bounced over the broken pavement. I felt the fear when the road seemed to disappear.

I sat in his closet as he lay there huddled and sobbing. And my heart broke.

I rode on the back of Miss Flirt as we went after two rogue bulls. Together we slid down the trail and our eyes stood out from our heads on stalks.  I was there as tiny Joyce walked through her cattle.

I was there for every gathering. I was there when he competed with Cookie in a macho game of “who has more injuries and who was hurt more”.

I was there when he held a loaded stainless steel revolver a .357 magnum to his forehead and I, too, felt the metal’s cold creep softly into my skin.

I tried to heave 300 pound hay bales with him.

I walk with him to the house where Darleen was so cruelly insulted, I felt every ounce of his anger. I stood there on the tiny porch of that ugliest of ugly houses as he knocked and rang the doorbell as we strained to hear it’s resounding gong throughout the house before realizing it didn’t work.  I was there when he was shot. I was there.

And I couldn’t stop it.

I was there when the darkest thoughts would take over his mind. And I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t take it on myself to spare him the pain and the terror.

“If I had known, if someone had said to me, All these things are the result of a specific event, would it have ameliorated or shortened that dark spiral? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Certainly it would have helped to know that I was not insane, that there was a cause. It would have helped to not have been ashamed.”

Oh, my dear friend, you most certainly are not insane!

Jameson, obviously, writes in such a personal way that the reader is drawn in to the story. He has such a conversational way of writing, I can’t even really say I read the book. No, we sat together over cups of black coffee and he told me story after story.

Every now again exposing the raw places of his heart, as if to say, “can you handle this too? Can you handle more than the happy places? Can you handle the painful places I’ve been? Can you?”

When I read chapter 30, the chapter in which he recounts the attempt to snuff out his life, I felt mounting fear, my heart began to race. I wanted to shut my ears, I wanted to shout, “NO!! Turn around! Go home! This doesn’t end well!!” But I read on. My fear soon turned anger as I wanted to throw myself between the muzzle of the rifle and this man. I wanted to scratch off the face of the man with the white hair. I want to tap dance on his head. I wanted so desperately to pummel him with my fists.

It was then I realized, this man had moved from crush to hero to friend to big brother. Because it’s only family that evokes that kind of visceral response.

I finished this book last night in tears. Not because it has a sad ending (it doesn’t) but because it was over. The conversations with Jameson have come to an end. And it has left a hole in my heart, my life. It’s like my vacation in the Sierras is over and I’m watching from the rearview mirror as slowly he and his ranch get smaller and smaller in the background.

I can very honestly say I have never had a book affect me in this way. I’ve laughed while reading books before. This book moved me from a small snicker to giggles to gales of laughter that makes you throw your head back as the laughter runs up from your abdomen and erupts through your open mouth to laughing so hard you can’t even make a sound but you just sit there shaking and making everything around you shake. I’ve laughed until tears ran and I nearly wet my pants. (Which is another thing, you won’t want to take a break from reading so you’ll put off potty breaks until the last possible moment. You’ll be praying the whole way that you just make it. And you take the book with you as you try to think of a way to continue to read while undoing your jeans. Take it from me, there isn’t one. Too many close calls prove that.)

But I have never had a book move me to tears like this one.  I’ve had books make me angry, angry enough to throw them across the room or in the trash. But not move to me to being a teary-weepy mess.  I’ve read books by authors I’ve liked, adored, wanted to emulate. But I’ve not been moved to love an author like this book.

If I could dictate a comment on this post from Jameson it would be simply, “Woman, come and get your hug.”

To give this book any number of turning pages is laughable. How do you put a number on a deeply touched heart? You can’t. I could give all the turning pages in the world and it wouldn’t be enough.

You will want to know where you can get your hands on this book. You could check your public library. Mine didn’t have it but your library might. You can order it through amazon.com, or request it through your local bookstore. (Link is not an affiliate link, I profit nothing by your clicks or orders.)

(To satisfy the government’s requirements, I did not receive anything for this review. I purchased the book. All thoughts and opinions are most definitely my own.)


5 thoughts on “A Review: An Accidental Cowboy

  1. thomascunderdahl says:

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt review. Years ago when my children were much younger, I wanted to give them an example of a parent who valued reading, and invested time in it. One of the books I picked up was a biography of Martin Luther, and at 500+ pages, it was one of the longest books I had read up to that time. It didn’t read like a biography; I felt like I was living life with Luther and experiencing it with him. Like you, when it came time to finish the book, I was truly sad. It was like I was parting with a friend who shared his life with me. I have yet to have that happen again, so that makes me curious about your book. I hope that maybe in the future I can read it too. Blessings and shalom Virginia!


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