Woody Creek, CO-based Joe Henry studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop with John Irving, but then detoured from writing fiction to work as a rancher, becoming a successful lyricist along the way. Henry's ravishing first work of fiction, "Lime Creek," must have been inspired by the Western lifestyle he chose: It's filled with exquisite snapshots of life on a Wyoming ranch.

The cadences of his prose are unusual and arresting as he tells the elemental story of the Davis family, beginning when father Spencer Davis -- "whose soul parties with the antelope smelling of sage and horselather and covered by the insubstantial globe of a great tumbleweed" -- meets his future wife Elizabeth on his family's ranch. She's there for the summer with her wealthy Connecticut parents, and after Spencer heads to Cambridge for college, they elope.

The rest of the book is set on the couple's own ranch near the Never Summer Mountains, where Spencer and Elizabeth raise horses and three boys, Lonny, Luke and Whitney. There is some typical Western-rancher emotional distance to the relationship between the boys and their father, but what's more evident is their abiding love.

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