In the Center of the Nation

Dan O'Brien, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $21.95 (374p) ISBN 978-0-87113-441-7
In this eminently readable, often moving novel, O'Brien ( Rites of Autumn ) captures the ambience of the contemporary West, fashioning characters who take hold of the reader's imagination and don't let go. Harneyok , S.Dak., is a small town on the edge of the Badlands, where harsh living conditions challenge inhabitants. The story line follows the attempts of local bank president Larry Sorenson to acquire the four struggling cattle ranches that have access to the vein of gold newly discovered by a mining company. O'Brien's memorable cast includes Ross Brady, owner of the ranch owners, a Vietnam war deserter putting his life back together; Elizabeth Janis, the Indian woman trying to keep her ranch going while caring for its paralyzed former owner; Tuffy Martinez, a hard-drinking Indian fighting the demons of lost love and alcoholism; Cleve Miller, a nearly bankrupt rancher whose fanatical anti-Semitism is activated by the arrival of Brady's brother-in-law. Events build to a violent and shattering resolution, but the heart and soul of this absorbing tale reside in the framing sections, where O'Brien speaks directly to the reader of ``all that is under the surface of this country of ours.'' (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 978-0-380-71702-6
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