River Song

Craig Lesley, Author
Craig Lesley, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.45 (307p) ISBN 978-0-395-43083-5
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Heavy with exposition in its early sections, Lesley's second novel waits too long to achieve its potential, but it displays the same knowledge of Native American culture and rich evocation of the Oregon's Columbia River valley that distinguished his well-received Winterkill . In this sequel, Nez Perce Danny Kachiah has grown older and more conscious of the vanishing culture to which he belongs. Sobered by the recent death of his former wife Loxie in a car accident, Danny welcomes the arrival of his 17-year-old son Jack, whom he barely knows. Danny sees their belated reunion as an opportunity to educate Jack in the tribal traditions. He also hopes to discourage the boy from taking up the career of rodeo riding that Danny himself once pursued. When a friend's grandson drowns and mourning custom forces the man to stay off the river for a year, Danny and Jack take over his fishing boat. They battle nature, the ghost of Loxie, who haunts them both, and sport fishermen who want to drive the Indians off the river. While the prose is crisp and clean and the dialogue gritty and natural, the novel does not engage the reader until its halfway mark. From this point however, as the narrative tension mounts, Lesley also begins to convey the magic of Indian ways. Readers who persist will be rewarded with a story that is, in the end, quietly but resonantly memorable. (June)
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