The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols is a strange book. It can make you laugh so hard you’ll fall off your chair. And it can make you cry.
The characters in the story are quirky, odd, strange, eccentric, and altogether realistic and believable. Nichols captures the dialect and vernacular of the people who have populated the northern New Mexico mountains for centuries in ways that tickle the ear. Equally well-drawn are the gringo interlopers who, in the name of “progress,” attempt to upset the delicate balance between people and the land.
While there are serious issues at work here, treated with the gravity they deserve, the missteps and mistakes of combatants on all sides add humor and hilarity to the telling. Pride and poverty, affluence and hubris, nature and the supernatural, legalities and scofflaws all play a role, and together they weave a wonderful tale of a town trying to survive in spite of itself.