Plot: The overlapping storylines in this book – a lawman chasing down an accused man, a white criminal on the run with his Black mistress, an oil glut raising issues in a developing town – are intriguing but sprawling. Readers may find it difficult to keep track of the many characters, settings, and plotlines.
Prose/Style: The book is most successful when probing into the psychological struggles of Ray Elliot, the fallible protagonist. But the perspective jumps around from character to character, and the style does not always provide the necessary interiority for great character development.
Originality: A quasi-Western, this book is original in its imperfect idea of justice. Unlike traditional genre entries, there is no clear-cut definition of good and evil.
Character Development/Execution: Ray Elliot is a complex lawman – committed to justice without knowing how to enforce it. The infrequent glimpses into his troubled psyche are some of the best parts of the book, but they’re overshadowed by extraneous plot points.
Date Submitted: April 02, 2021
Oct 05, 2020Mark Zvonkovic rated it really liked it
Where No Man Pursueth is a morality tale that is beautiful and believable.
Are there degrees of badness? Where No Man Pursueth asks the question in many ways. Is a lie as bad as a murder? Ray Elliot struggles with these questions for more than thirty years in the novel and decides on answers repeatedly, only to change his mind time and again. He says on several occasions, as do other characters, that some men need killing. But when he carries this philosophy out, it so adversely affects him that he is haunted by it, so much so that when near the end of the novel he confronts a man who is so evil a character that, hands down, he needs killing, Ray Elliot cannot do it.
The novel could be called a morality tale. The hero makes a mistake, and in his heroic efforts to correct it, bumbles his way down a number of wrong paths. The villain is a scoundrel and a killer who never seems to suffer what he clearly deserves and often enjoys what he shouldn’t. The heroine, one of the villains ill begotten bounties, asks the hero for help. But in the course of aiding her, the hero tells her a lie that shames him to such an extent that he must run away for decades to pay a penance. The three of these characters come together at the end to enact a scene of redemption. Well, sort of.
It is the “sort of” that makes Where No Man Pursueth a fine story. One thinks of the Hemingway novels when reading this novel. What happens never clearly displays an answer to the questions posed, particularly those associated with immorality. It’s a real depiction of life, what’s good and true, in Hemingway terminology. Texas literature also has many similar tales, where a clear of view of morality isn’t baked into a pie. Larry McMurtry is a master of those stories. If there is to be redemption at the end, the reader must provide it.
This is Jimerson’s first novel, and it is far too soon to say he is a Hemingway or a McMurtry. A polish isn’t quite there in his story telling, nor is there a mastery of the language. Truthfully, the prose is rough in some places and needed more editing. But the telling of the story by him is engaging, and at several points the action or the circumstances make it almost impossible to put down the book. And, for the telling of a tale like this one, the writer’s imperfections can be virtuous. The same can be said for Ray Eliot.
Where No Man Pursueth will not be embraced by the reader who wants a quick plot, slick language, and an easy to understand conclusion. A lover of the honest tale with an imperfect protagonist, who stumbles as much as he runs, will enjoy the story. Ray Eliot is a flawed but genuine hero, and his life is lived in a fashion that will wiggle around in your memory and your heart for some time to come.