Unexpected wisdom

I enjoy the works of C.J. Box, a writer who lives in Wyoming and has given us the character Joe Pickett.

Pickett is a game warden, and has never wanted to do anything else. He is also a man who, knowingly or not, thrives on the idea that people automatically underestimate him. He does not look for trouble, but trouble finds him, and in Box’s world, this trouble manifests in an endless assortment of villains that find their way to the wilderness of northern Wyoming. Pickett is not Rambo, and does not automatically come out on top of his engagements with these assorted bad guys. He suffers, gets lost, makes mistakes, gets shot and loses one truck and horse after another, only surviving by some sort of native intelligence that pushes him to do something that allows him to, in the end, survive and to be with his wife, Marybeth, and daughters Sheridan and Lucy.

I like this sort of thing, detective fiction set in the Bighorn Mountains rather than the streets and alleys of Los Angeles. I am familiar with this landscape, though I was drawn in my younger years not to the Bighorns, but their northern cousin, the Beartooths.

None of that is here nor there. Box has that rare ability, as found in Stephen King and Michael Connelly, to bring to life characters of lasting interest, book after book. Last I counted, Box had given us 22 Joe Pickett adventures, which include a streaming series on Amazon Prime. What caught my eye this morning was this passage, from page 248 of his 2010 work, Nowhere to Run. I like the guy, admire his abilities, but did not expect this:

“Brent [the wife of a character in this book, speaking to Pickett] has always been very involved politically. We give a lot of money to candidates, and as a big developer he is used to being, um, close with them. There’s a lot of federal money these days, you know. It has to go to somebody, is the way Brent puts it, so it might as well be him. Anyway, Justin was a big fan of that writer Ayn Rand. You know her?”

Joe said, “I read Atlas Shrugged in college. It was pretty good until that last speech. I never could finish it because of that ninety-page speech at the end.

“Justin said he was an Objectivist, like Ayn Rand. You know, staunch capitalism, anti-big government. Lots of kids go through that.”

“Lots of kids go through that”. Unfortunately, many never grow beyond Rand.

I had the same reaction years ago. Rand was a smart woman, but the lousiest fiction writer ever to tread water. And I noticed that she picked up young people, and their intellectual development often stopped with her. I’ll never forget (though I have tried) the romantic interlude in Atlas Shrugged between Dagney Taggart and Hank Rearden, where they get it on in the sack, and then after Hank explains his ideas about romantic love, how it does not exist, and how it is all selfishness disguised as affection for others. Dagney ate it up even as in the real world a normal woman would have sent the pretentious bastard on his way, never to grace her bed again. His post-coital speech was not ninety pages. It only seemed like it.

Rand had all the attributes of a sociopath. She could not envision romantic love, and so concluded it was not real.

Anyway, C. J. Box caught me off-guard this morning with that intellectual interlude. I have enjoyed his work very much, and now I like him even more.

8 thoughts on “Unexpected wisdom

  1. I have read all the Pickett centered books and you have made an accurate description of that character. However, in the most recent stories, I have found that he is being pushed around even more than his historic past – even at the peril of his immediate family. This is something that I think lacks continuity, and it is certainly something that I would not allow as a husband and father – but I have the tools to discretely dissuade such actions (I thought that he might rise to the occasion). I am NOT looking forward to the series continuing if that is the direction of the lead character.

    Re: Rand – Atlas Shrugged
    I have read it twice, neither time more recent than a decade passed. I took it as a story and an enjoyable one to me. Simply: I’ll take my work, my [future] product and ditch the do-nothing bureaucracy and parasites found almost everywhere. As to “romantic love”, that is far too personal and varied – men and women alike. She, Rand, could envision it, she just disagreed with it. She is not alone.


    1. Many people thrive on the feeling of being in love, only to find that the early infatuation* cannot be sustained, and that there is nothing to replace it. That is why I suggest long engagements so that if in time you want to make the relationship permanent, you know full well what lies ahead. Then you can enter into a period of mutual growth and support, and even feelings of real love … not infatuation, of the type that sustains for decades. That may be the exception, I don’t know. I know burned out couples, one in particular where he has made clear to her that he doesn’t even like her. But they stay together because divorce is complicated. Owning a home together can hold a marriage together.

      Re Rand, there was an egocentric trend a few years back where people claimed to be “going Galt.” I knew in my heart of hearts that once it became clear they were not missed or needed, they’d return with head down ready to rejoin the grind.

      *Old saying: There is but a fine line between infatuation and insanity.


    2. By the way, and I have been banned from more than one blogs for stating this simple fact: If you employ Rand’s philosophy, the result is chaos. It is not a black and white world. No one gets to be right all the time. No one wears a gold badge.


      1. The Story.
        All memory here, and it is fading as we speak… Reardon Metal. Did not the government lackeys effectively steal Hank’s education, his labor, his ingenuity, his innovation, his unique personal attributes?

        “For the good of the people”?

        Yet, as today, they were actually lining their own pockets, yes?

        Could be wrong, but he said “I won’t help you destroy me.” Is that about right?

        They could have left him what he deserved: a huge pile of casholla – and STILL had the product for the good citizens… right?

        No, they wanted to dictate terms of HIS product, his company and his LIFES WORK, keeping it all to the parasites and their cronies.

        If that bastardized synopsis is about right, then I’m with Hank every time.

        Look at this fucked up controlling “class.” Remove them all! How long would the chaos last? I actually do not care… I’d rather have that than these filthy fucking arrogant rich imbeciles presuming control of all.


        1. Hank Reardon is a product of imagination. Bill Gates is not. In the real world I do not imagine that Gates has ever written a line of computer code. He was selected to advance new DARPA technology (as was Steve Jobs). He was given some computer code (his mommy got it for him from IBM}, and has been allowed to front for masses of government cash to advance various movements, such as depopulation and vaccines. Noam Chomsky wrote about him that in 1995 he refused to attend meetings concerning structure of the Internet, as he saw no future in it. He’s an imbecile.

          Chomsky, whom I once had great admiration for, did make some solid sense, saying that new technology has to be researched and financed by government, as the private sector cannot and will not take that kind of risk. Once the technology is shown to work, it is handed over to private people who act as fronts, pretending to be geniuses but actually having the puppeteer’s hand up their asses. These are our Gates, Jobs, Musks, Zuckerbergs, Bezos characters. They, like Reardon, are not real. DARPA rules our lives, a collective that finances most of the groundbreaking research going on today. Rand did not know about this system.


          1. Unlike your accurately described reality, and whether or not Rand knew of the system, Reardon accepted no assistance from the parasites, was no patsy or dunce and yet they made claims upon him and his – stealing and lying about it.

            It’s a story that is distinct from the colluded systems of today.


            1. The DARPA system goes way back. What was going on with Manhattan? I can only speculate, and I have no speculation other than some technology was fostered that is around us today, said to be the product of private geniuses. Regarding taxes, Modern Monetary Theory [MMT) makes sense to me in that they use that weapon as a way to control inflation nothing more. Money raised via taxes merely evaporates, and government money is the product of a genie. I first came into the business world in a system where wealthy people saw as much as 70% of their income taxed away, indeed confiscatory. Over the years it has morphed into our current flat tax where most people are paying 35% or so by various means. Only a few escape it, and these are the poorer among us, who are subsidized by various means, such as the earned income credit. The overall impact of taxation is fine tuned and monitored, with various presidents acting as fronts while “tax reform” measures nip and tuck at the system to keep it stable. Do very wealthy people file returns and pay taxes, for real? I imagine not, but cannot know.


  2. Mark.

    Absolutely love the Joe Pickett books. A friend introduced me to that author a few years ago and have read almost every book. I love the wilderness/mountain setting. Tired of the big city mess. You’re right, he’s just a regular family guy, nothing tough about him, yet completely miss-read by those who come into contact with him. Pretty good with a shotgun as well, seems to not have a problem using it. And his friend Nate is always in the background somewhere ready to pull his cannon out of its holster. I had no idea of the streaming series, . . . I’ll have to check that one out.
    Love your blog. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

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