Pardner: 1975 by Patrick M. Browning is loosely based on the author’s own experience managing a ranch in Arizona. It is the fictional tale of his life as a horseman and a rancher, fighting against all odds. Murphy is our main character – the author’s persona – and right from a very young age, we are told how troubled his family dynamics were. From his mother’s health problems to his father always away for work, to his strained relationship with his brother, nothing comes easy. But Doc enters Murphy’s life, a unique mentor that helps him navigate all life’s hardships. Doc Pardee, an 83-year-old man, friend of Murphy’s grandfather and a legend raising horses anoints Murphy as Pardner, and teaches him everything he needs to know to win on the racetrack and in life. The work ethic instilled bears its fruits, and Murphy ends up moving from one position to the next, always with success, sometimes it seems only supported by his own sheer will and determination.
This is a fictional rendition of Browning’s life, that gives the readers a glimpse of his energetic and lively personality, making it easy to believe the tremendous success he’s had. There are a lot of emotions in here to unpack, all beautifully described by the author, with great sensitivity and restraint. We can’t help but feel invested in Murphy and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his life, his challenges, and his wins, through the skilled work of Browning. The characters in the book are peculiar but oddly relatable. I believe this is a book that will appeal to anyone who enjoys biographies but also books about cowboys.