|Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota
A slender plot-line for its 400+ pages, it glows with intensity at each turn. While your desire to know what happens next presses you onward, you pause along with the author to reflect on the thoughts and feelings of the characters. All are pulled into a flow of events that begins with the purchase of a horse and leads inevitably to the burning of a house.
There is humor, suspense, family drama, surprises, ironies of all kinds, a smoldering romance, conflicts, animosity, suspense, farce, triumphs and sorrows in Meyers' novel. And all is woven around a continuing meditation on moral complexity and finally the great difficulty of doing the right thing when there are deep emotions, conflicting points of view, and only degrees of violence and loss to choose from.
There are four young men at the center of this story, two Indians, a cowboy, and a German exchange student. Each bears a legacy of history that pulls them together in the single effort to rescue three horses. Meyers makes them come to life vividly through action, thought, and dialogue.
Around them is another dozen or so characters, just as carefully drawn and revealed through illuminating flashes of incident. And as in his other work, there is the continuing presence of the landscape and the seasons, as summer turns to autumn and snow-driven winter.
It is a multi-layered narrative where ironic parallels multiply and fascinating ambiguities abound. Especially interesting is the characterization of the young cowboy, whose ancestry in American literature dates back to Owen Wister's Virginian. Here is that same set of values, courage, pure-heartedness, and self-containment, 100 years later, set in conflict with a cunning villain. It is moving to learn what has become of him.
Photo image: wikimedia.org
Coming up: Adrian Louis, Skins