In this dark memoir of Tom Liggett’s early life, he examines how Western masculinity has perpetuated violence, instability, and the cycle of abuse in numerous families.
The first cowboy in Liggett’s life was his father, who met his mother while she was living in a makeshift bordello.
Liggett goes back to look at the tragedies of his parents’ lives before they had that eventful first encounter.
His father, MT, was born into a brilliant and successful family but squandered his intelligence on a hedonistic lifestyle. Liggett’s mother, Lita Snow, could trace her lineage back to the Trail of Tears. In harsh conditions and under the control of a sadistic stepfather, Lita still flourished. She even became a head majorette and basketball star. Then she met MT, and Liggett was born soon after.
MT wasn’t the only cowboy in Lita’s life. There was also Frank McMillan, a rough soldier who wanted Lita but didn’t want her son.
Liggett details the long shadows the two cowboys cast over his childhood and the abuse and neglect that followed. At the same time, Liggett recalls his growing love of horticulture and the ways he has stopped the cycle of violence from continuing to control his life.