The High Country Illuminator

The High Country Illuminator: A Tale of Light and Darkness and the Ski Bums of Avalon

The High Country 
Illuminator By the time I'd sold my second novel, I had it down to a science: grab the check and put it work. The advance from Incident at Muc Wa went to the down payment on a cottage on the shore of a salt-water bay in New Hampshire. That done, I promptly rented it out, put my skis in the Volkswagen Beetle, and drove West, sleeping betimes in the car. Just before Thanksgiving Day, I drove up Colorado Route 82 to the mountain town of Aspen. It was ritzy even then, though much more hospitable than now to the impecunious ski-bums who flock there every winter. I rented a room in the Garret at 222 West Hopkins for $70 a month, which happened to be the same rental I was getting for my house at home--I just endorsed the check over to the innkeepers every month.

That was a great winter, and I did learn to ski, after a fashion. Indeed, by April I was convinced that I had mastered the art, though what really happened was that I got strong enough to ski almost anything, so I had to start all over again the following winter in New Hampshire. By that time I was married and had a little girl coming along. Sally and I each worked half a day--at the same job, actually--and I spent my free time writing The High Country Illuminator in an effort to catch the manic life of Aspen toward the end of the 1960s, a time of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, marijuana, and disgust at a government that would send its young men to fight other young men in Vietnam. It was, I think, the closest this country came to revolution, apart from the unpleasant years from 1775 to 1783 and 1861 to 1865. The death toll was much smaller, of course, but it was not inconsiderable.

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What the critics said

  • "A light, allegorical shorty of a book that swings along in tempo with the hip sub-culture" -- Denver Post

  • "Extremely bizarre and delightfully humorous ... stirs up the ski resort with professional ability and a touch of magic -- Oregon Journal

  • "The writing is adept, the plot bewildering, the pace dizzy, and the skiing scenes are out of sight" -- Skier magazine

  • "Vivid and effortless" -- Library Journal

    Publishing history

    The High Country Illuminator was published in hardcover by Doubleday & Co. in 1971, republished by the Authors Guild in a quality paperback in 2000, and by Warbird Books in 2013. Digital editions published 2013.

  • Buy the print edition
  • The High Country Illuminator is a 6x9 inch paperback, 178 pages, retail price $8.95. Get it from onlines retailers including:
  • Amazon stores in several countries
    Barnes and Noble
    Book Depository (cheap shipping worldwide)

    Or get an autographed copy by Priority Mail (to U.S. addresses only). You can also pay by check. Finally, you may be able to get the paperback through your local bookstore using the ISBN code 978-1481854764, probably with a surcharge.

  • Buy the e-book
  • The digital edition contains the same text and costs $3.99 in the U.S., slightly more elsewhere. Get it at major e-tailers, including:
    Amazon stores worldwide
    Apple iBooks Store
    Barnes and Noble
    Inktera - Kobo
    Scribd - Oyster

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    Posted August 2015. Websites ©1997-2015 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.