The Nevada They Knew is the story of a legendary friendship. Robert Caples (1908–1979) was Nevada's leading artist of the twentieth century, Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909–1971) its leading novelist. Caples was a private, quiet man, extremely handsome, famously attractive to women, and five times married.
Clark was gregarious, a compulsive talker, also handsome, but faithfully wed. Caples' works range from portraits of divorcées and risque cartoon maps of Reno during the heyday of its divorce mill, to charcoals of Nevada Indians, to profoundly spiritual landscapes – especially of Great Basin mountains.
Clark's fame rests on The Ox-Bow Incident, but his finest novel is The City of Trembling Leaves, a celebration of youth based in part on the early years of his friendship with Caples in Nevada.
Shafton goes back and forth between the novel and the men's biographies to honor their lives and works, and to understand the contrasting reasons Clark too soon stopped publishing fiction and Caples eventually stopped painting.
This book is also a memoir, of Shafton's friendship with Caples, his attachment to Clark's novel City, and his connection to a land both men taught him to love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Anthony Shafton was born in Chicago in 1937. This is his fifth book. He has written on subjects as diverse as dream psychology, African American cultural sociology, and the biological evolution of self-awareness in humans and other primates. Shafton has always been a writer and independent scholar, with degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities. Before retiring, he earned his living in a variety of occupations, including teacher, merchant seaman, craftsman and small businessman. After living all over the country and in England, he has been at home since 2012 in Reno, Nevada.