cover image The Life and Times of Captain N.

The Life and Times of Captain N.

Douglas Glover. Knopf Publishing Group, $20 (185pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41573-2

In this historical novel set in the Mohawk Valley of New York State during the Revolutionary War, Native Americans side with the British against the rebel colonists in skirmishes that ebb and flow across the rugged countryside. Glover ( The South Will Rise at Noon ) attempts to tell the story of Capt. Hendrick Ellis, a Tory, and his recalcitrant son Oskar, who takes a blood oath against his father for fighting on the wrong side. Oskar, who is eventually kidnapped and pressed into service for King George, maintains a precocious correspondence with ``Gen'l Washington'' and fancies himself a writer. Though this may sound like an adventure tale out of Fenimore Cooper, Glover's rash of postmodernist technique yields something closer to the violent pastiches of William Burroughs. Texts from ``Oskar's book on Indians'' mix with the dreams and observations of two mysterious white women (one of whom lives with Indians) to produce a disorienting and shattered world. Glover has certainly written a book true to his take on the era--``The war is like a whirlwind . . .''; but anachronisms and academy-addled prose (``I could see the worry in their faces, as if the grammar of their resolve and the structure of the world they were about to meet in battle were different'') betray an inadequate control of the material. ( Feb. )