The cowboy is 6 feet 2 inches tall with a cleft chin, strong jaw, and well-formed lips (“mama said meow”). He could buy all his accessories in a Brooklyn men’s shop, but he doesn’t have to because he’s the real thing, a real rancher in a real cowboy hat who herds real cattle and wears his faded Wranglers so well that they turn the heads of the gay couples at the hipster bar where they go on their first date (back when [the author] still believed it was OK for the woman to pick the location of a date). Our heroine’s attraction to him—that is, the animal attraction of a trash-talking feminist who grew up in a Marxist, Barbie-free household to this … this … caveman, this brute with a pickup truck and a gun rack who watches Fox News and eats steak—comes as an unwelcome surprise to her at first. She wonders: Aren’t all conservatives “stupid! Or evil!”? Shouldn’t a good feminist only be into guys in tweed suits who recycle? Isn’t it a liberal sin to be turned on by big, strong, leathery, tanned hands? But then she turns to Google and realizes that science and biology are on the side of her libido. Feminism may have covered our eyes with its “dreary shroud of lies,” but nature knows the truth, which is that men and women are different. After that, the revelations come fast: “We are the vessel. They are the elixir and the funnel. We are the earth. They are the plough and seed. They give, we take. We open, they enter.” [The author], like all womankind, was “programmed, sexually and emotionally, to get excited by a man who took charge.” Her first night at the ranch, Al Green on the radio, the “angels sang arias” and “the earth moved.” She would tell you more details about that night, but the cowboy has forbidden it.But how quickly things change: Between the time the book was finished and when it appeared on the shelves, the cowboy revealed that he was an abusive jerk and threw the author out:
while I set out to write a memoir that was a love letter to a man I was deeply in love with, a man who challenged me in myriad ways, a man who changed my life profoundly, a man I respected and honored greatly at the time, what I actually wrote was a handbook for women on how to fall in love with a manipulative, controlling, abusive narcissist. The fascinating thing about the release of the book, for me, has been just how many reviewers have seen what I failed to see when I wrote the book: That the cowboy was controlling and abusive. I simply never saw it then.As Dreher says, the publishers are probably kicking themselves for ever entering into a deal with the obviously unstable Valdez.