cover image Ledoyt


Carol Emshwiller. Mercury House, $14.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-1-56279-081-3

Set in the West in the early 1900s, Emshwiller's latest novel is the story of Lotti, a young girl uncertain of her place in the world. Her mother has just married the hired man, Ledoyt (or ``Old Him,'' as Lotti likes to say), and Lotti is terribly confused, as only an adolescent can be. Frustrated beyond endurance, she dresses as a boy and runs away, taking her younger brother, Fay, with her. A traumatic attack while on the trail brings certain benefits: Lotti begins to put the facts of her life together and comes to realize that she was the result of a rape. Lotti returns to her home and, bolstered by a new understanding of her mother and an uneasy truce with Ledoyt, finds comfort in her drawings and newfound identity. The narrative shifts between Lotti's first-person accounts and those of her family, a technique that, if sometimes distracting, does create an intimate acquaintance with each character and with family relationships. More important is Emshwiller's verbal portrait of Lotti (cleverly augmented by Lotti's journal drawings of horses and people--many engulfed in flames) and of adolescent resentment and angst. (Oct.)