Wild Game

Frank Bergon, Author
Frank Bergon, Author University of Nevada Press $22 (323p) ISBN 978-0-87417-257-7
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Set down in plain language that mirrors the forbidding desert landscape of Nevada, this brooding, complex novel by Bergon (Shoshone Mike), professor of English at Vassar College, is based on a true crime. On New Year's Eve, 1982, Jack Irigaray, an idealistic Reno wildlife biologist struggling with alcoholism and a wife searching for self-realization in New Age occultism, is called out by a local game warden to assist in the investigation of Billy Crockett, a renegade trapper illegally operating in the remote Nevada high country. Caught red-handed, Billy, claiming self-defense, fatally shoots the warden and a hapless bystander. After forcing Jack at gunpoint to help dispose of the bodies, Billy wounds him and flees into the desert. The plot chronicles the nine-year pursuit, capture, conviction, escape and recapture of Billy, but this is highly allegorical. In the process, Bergon exposes questions of misplaced hero-worship and the clash of the vestigial Old West lone-wolf mentality with the contemporary neon-lit dice table civilization--all of this while Jack, trying to find his own salvation, plunges deeper into his addictions. As entertaining as it is disturbing, this postmodern tale of crime and punishment is a triumph of old-fashioned storytelling. (Apr.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!