BASHO & THE LAST ROUNDUP: Grand Canyon Tales By Savant Tails depicts a fable burros in the Grand Canyon who are not only endowed with the ability to speak but also with a higher consciousness. Of course, the intention isn’t to make a jackass out of the reader, so much as to enlightened those who are willing to accept the premise touted by Shakesburro who once said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatioburro, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Well, this distinguished burro in burro lore didn’t exactly use the phrase ‘heaven and earth’ in this address, because burros use different nouns and adjectives for how they perceive things. He also used the word, burrosophy, instead of philosophy, because the lexicon of burros is different than our own. This story and its implied burrosense (that’s another common term in use) will use the burro’s language and terms, and the reader will catch on as he or she follows along.

As an introduction to the reader, I realize all of the above is a lot to swallow. Besides, can burros really talk, let alone have such famous characters such as Shakesburro? All I can say from the outset is, YES THEY CAN, because all the featured burros in this store have such abilities. The main narrator, who is a mule by the name of Major Powell, tells two other mules, Hermit and Coconino, about the fable of Basho. This much you will have to believe is true because there was indeed a roundup of all the wild burros in the Grand Canyon that took place in 1980. While we, as humans, know our part of what went on, Major Powell is going to let us know what went on in the minds of the burros. His fable will also muster the likes of two precocious and playful ravens (aren’t they all?), Kiva and Kachina, and one sly and a rather vindictive mountain lion named Pumster. The human element is also represented by two principals, Slim and Quirt, who are the two cowboys assigned to track down the two burros that have somehow managed to escape the dragnet.

The story Major Powell has in store for his two pals, Hermit and Coconino, is engaging throughout the narrative. There’s also a daring escape by Basho and his girlfriend, Brightee II, which is abetted by the two ravens and the puma. I realize Basho & the Last Roundup's fable seems to be pulling your tail, but as Hermit is prone to saying, “Never look a gift mule in the mouth because he just might bite you when you least expect it.” Well, you’ll have to excuse Hermit for taking human adages and twisting them to suit whatever purpose he deems is useful. He’s just wired that way and more or less provides some comical relief for this rather harrowing story that takes places below the South Rim. 

Incidentally, all the information about the geology, the trails, and the National Park Service that mandated the roundup, is all factual. My role in the story is to get the facts right and make sure Major Powell’s narration gets explained.

As a bonus to this story, there is a lot of philosophy mixed in, specifically Eastern philosophy. That’s because the influence in the story, from the likes of Chung-tzuburro and Lao-tsuburro impart to the reader the complexity of how some burros, like Spiritus, look at things. Spiritus is the burro spirit who oversees the plight of the burros and is the Deux ex machina who can only be seen by those who believe in him. Major Powell is one believer, as is Basho. The two mules, however, can only take this master burro’s existence on faith, as do most of the other burros who end up getting caught by the wranglers.

This synopsis of Basho & the Last Roundup is straight from the mule’s and burro’s mouth, as interpreted by myself. There is action, adventure, hope, fear, even love and romance that sets this novel apart from others. I believe the singularity of this novel is bound to be a kick in the pants for the reader. As Hermit says, “It just might learn dudes something about things they don’t know nothin’ about.” You’ll have to excuse Hermit for his misuse of the King’s or Queen’s English. He’s picked up what he knows from years of taking dudes (riders) to and from Phantom Ranch, which is the tourista mecca at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. One thing we have to give this, the largest mule in his special string of mules, is that he listens a lot and mostly gets the information right.

As for best character to pay attention to in this story, that would be Major Powell. He’s a venerable mule who used to ply the trails but has since been retired and lives near Phantom Ranch. He’s also named after a legendary human who was the first to explore the Grand Canyon from the interior, by boat.

<<<approx. 300 pages>>>