THE BIG EMPTY – LSBBT

THE BIG EMPTY

by
LOREN C. STEFFY
Genre: Western / Rural Fiction / Small Town
Date of Publication: May 25, 2021
Number of Pages: 304 pages 
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When Trace Malloy and Blaine Witherspoon collide on a desolate West Texas highway, their fender bender sets the tone for escalating clashes that will determine the future of the town of Conquistador.
Malloy, a ranch manager and lifelong cowboy, knows that his occupation—and his community—are dying. He wants new- millennium opportunities for his son, even though he himself failed to summon the courage to leave familiar touchstones behind.
Witherspoon, an ambitious, Lexus-driving techie, offers a solution. He moves to Conquistador to build and run a state-of-the-art semiconductor plant that will bring prestige and high-paying technology jobs to revive the town—and advance his own career.
What neither man anticipates is the power the “Big Empty” will wield over their plans. The flat, endless expanse of dusty plain is as much a character in the conflict as are the locals struggling to subsist in this timeworn backwater and the high-tech transplants hell-bent on conquering it. While Malloy grapples with the flaws of his ancestors and his growing ambivalence toward the chip plant, Witherspoon falls prey to construction snafus, corporate backstabbing, and financial fraud. As they each confront personal fears, they find themselves united in the search for their own version of purpose in a uniquely untamable Texas landscape.
PRAISE FOR THE BIG EMPTY:
“The Big Empty” captures a moment when Big Tech seemingly promised everything. By turns funny and painful, Steffy’s story builds like an accelerating freight train, reaching a fast-paced climax.”
The Epoch Times
“Like the titular land itself, Steffy’s novel is uncompromising in spotlighting the strains that the drive toward material achievement puts on the individual in the face of nature’s whims.”
Southern Review of Books
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MY REVIEW

The start of the book was a crash – literally.  Good ole’ guy meets city slicker.  One relaxed and dealing, the other slightly freaking and placing blame – I’ll let you figure out which was which.  A large chip corporation (no not potato!) has come to the small Texas town of Conquistador, and even though it was welcomed, even invited by the residents, life is changing. Technolgy vs. ranching – can they co-exist?

As the story develops, the reader gets a great insight into both sides of the plot because there really are sides that are running parallel.  However at times, with just a tiny bit of effort, you can see an overlap.  The theme of trying to make things better for ourselves and the next generation is carried throughout. Also, a strong theme of what being an environmentalist means to a variety of people and lifestyles is presented with a great deal of showing the reader all sides of the issue. Not to be forgotten, tucked into various scenes is a bit of humor, just enough to start a smile or a small chuckle and really lends itself to the realism of the characters.

There are tiny and bigger twists occurring that I enjoyed.  They were realistic, reasonable and feasible but at the same time unexpected.  I enjoyed following a new path in the storyline to see where it was going.

Being a non-native Texan, I was a little leery about the initial jabs at other states but having lived here over 30 years and embracing the state into my heart – I get what the author was trying to portray.  It really is a concept that can be used all over the world.  Don’t try to make a place into what you want – see it for what it is and figure out how you fit in.

As this author’s first novel, he presents an engaging and page turning, professional product.

Loren C. Steffy is the author of five nonfiction books. He is a writer at large for Texas Monthly, and his work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. He has previously worked for news organizations including Bloomberg and the Houston Chronicle, and he is a managing director for 30 Point Strategies, where he leads the 30 Point Press publishing imprint. His is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and is the co-host of the Rational Middle podcast. The Big Empty is his first novel. Steffy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. He lives in Wimberley, Texas, with his wife, three dogs and an ungrateful cat.
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11/16/21

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