In Calamity’s Wake

Natalee Caple. Bloomsbury, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-62040-185-9
On his deathbed, Miette promises her adoptive father that she will seek out her mother, the notorious western legend Calamity Jane. What follows is a dark and thrilling adventure through the American Badlands in the late 19th century, brought to life by exacting prose and a gallery of gothic characters (including a hag claiming to be Miette’s dead father’s love and a woman who begs Miette to find her children’s bones at the bottom of a well). By turns cinematic in its rendering of landscape and heartbreaking in its rich depiction of its young heroine, poet and novelist Caple (Mackerel Sky) employs a full range of language and experimental narration to innervate the plot. Interspersed through Miette’s story are minor characters’ perspectives and larger-than-life portraits of Calamity Jane—rendered through colloquial tall tales, dime-novel hyperbole, and something close to genuine biography—that lend a fascinating tone to the book and blur the line between the historic woman and the myth she became. As Miette travels the wild country in search of her mother and herself, an early line in the story continually haunts her journey: “One likes to believe in the goodness of people. But the people you meet on the road, well, sometimes the unseen cannot really see themselves.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 09/17/2013
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4434-0672-7
Hardcover - 312 pages - 978-1-4434-0670-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-62040-187-3
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-4434-0671-0
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