cover image Kill Hole

Kill Hole

Jamake Highwater. Grove/Atlantic, $18.95 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1475-4

Highwater's first novel in six years is an awkwardly written, disappointing continuation of his popular Ghost Horse cycle. Set in the immediate future, the overly complicated story concerns Sitko Ghost Horse, grandson of Amana (the protagonist of Legend Days and The Ceremony of Innocence ). Raised by whites and called Seymour Miller, Ghost Horse becomes a successful artist and awakens to his Native American heritage. His career is nearly wrecked, however, when rumors circulate that he isn't really Indian at all. An unnamed plague (remarkably like AIDS) then strikes the city, killing both enemies and friends, including his gay lover. Ghost Horse flees the decaying city only to stumble upon a mysterious tribal civilization that is about to perform one of its most sacred rituals; unless he can prove he is a bona fide Indian, he will be put to death as an interloper. He manages to escape into the surrounding desert, still pursued by the Indian leader, Delito. Given the widely circulated assertions that Highwater is not of Indian blood--as reported in the national Native American newspaper Akwesasne Notes and such books as Ward Churchill's recent Fantasies of the Master Race (Nonfiction Forecasts, Jan. 20)--this latest work comes off as thinly veiled self-justification with strong overtones of persecution and revenge fantasy. ( Oct. )