The Taos Truth Game

Written by Earl Ganz
Review by Chuck Curtis


Ganz, retired chairman of the MFA program at the University of Montana, resurrects the forgotten writer Myron Brinig and imagines his introduction to the artist colony of Taos in the 1930s. Many people recall Taos in the thirties as the center of avant garde art under the tutelage of Mabel Dodge Luhan. Hardly anyone remembers Brinig, even though he published 21 novels, including the critically acclaimed Singermann and Wide Open Town.

The more we learn about Brinig and his books, the more we wonder why he disappeared from our literary recollection. The man portrayed in Ganz’s book is talented and fascinating, if also at times exasperating. We watch him as he falls in love with Taos and the painter Cady Wells, almost in the same moment. During his 20-year tenure in Taos, Ganz imagines Brinig’s meetings with Thomas Wolfe, Frieda Lawrence, Robinson and Una Jeffers, and Frank Waters, as well as brief encounters with Gertrude Stein and Henry Roth.

Mabel Dodge Luhan created the Taos that Brinig loves. She built her famous adobe dwelling, Big House, as a rendezvous for artistic talent, starting with D. H. Lawrence. She also takes Brinig under her wing, and he in turn loves her, hates her, discovers her most damaging secret, and eventually protects her from it.

Ganz’s lyrical prose holds this complex tale together. You will often find yourself rereading a passage just to enjoy its beauty again. That alone is worth the price of admission.