October 17, 2006

Cherokees pleased with Thirteen Moons

Novel taps into history, romanceTurning his research and style from the Civil War setting of "Cold Mountain," Frazier found inspiration for "Thirteen Moons" in the often tragic history of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

"The Eastern Band is very pleased that such a notable author as Charles Frazier has undertaken the daunting task of conveying intricate stories typical of our 'Removal Era' history," says Principal Chief Michell Hicks in the tribe's official statement on the book.

"I read 'Thirteen Moons' and begin to crave more and more Cherokee history," Hicks says.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
I have enclosed to Rob the link to the entire article, 'The 8 Million Dollar Man', in the Oct. 20 issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. But I will quote a couple of paras --
"In 2002, much to his chagrin, Charles Frazier made the crawl on CNN. 'COLD MOUNTAIN Author Gets $8M,' is how the Associated Press headline put it, and for a couple of days it was big news in publishing. On the basis of a one-page proposal, so the story went, Random House would pay $8.25 million for the right to publish Frazier's second novel -- his follow-up to MOUNTAIN, the runaway 1997 literary best-seller and award-winning Civil War tale -- while producer Scott Rudin forked over $3 million for the movie rights. Four years later, that follow-up novel is here, a historical epic about the Cherokee Indians called THIRTEEN MOONS, and its author -- sitting in the front yard of his mountaintop home, which commands panoramic views of the hazy hills and valleys around Asheville, N.C. -- would rather talk about the book, not the money.
'I'd still like to know who the hell --' he starts, meaning to finish that thought with something like 'leaked those dollar figures to the press,'...

THIRTEEN MOONS, inspired by a real 19th-century white man adopted by Cherokees, follows protagonist Will Cooper through almost 100 years of tribal history. Frazier admires the Cherokee. 'Where I grew up,' Frazier says, referring to Andrews, N.C., 'the Snowbird branch of the Cherokee land was just, I don't know what, 15 miles away as the crow flies. When I was a kid, there were people living over there that didn't speak English.' (Currently he's overseeing a project to translate part of THIRTEEN MOONS into Cherokee as a teaching tool, because 'at the rate it's going, in 20 years Cherokee will be a dead language.'

So far the critical reception to THIRTEEN MOONS has been mixed. Aside from a few advance raves, the notices have been softer than they were for COLD MOUNTAIN. Again, Frazier can't worry about that. 'It's not like I don't have respect for reviews,' he says, 'but it's not like I could've written this book 15 other ways, either. I don't read a lot of reviews of my books. It's been at least five years since I read The New York Times Book Review.'

One would have to have read the entire article to see what writerfella saw, but these small excerpts do tell a few things. Such as his unconscious acknowledgment that from the time he was a boy up to today as an author, the Cherokee slowly have been dying as a culture. And that Cherokee history locked his book into the form in which it now appears, so if anything is amiss, it is not all his fault.
The article ends with Frazier saying, "I mean, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as a writer. Those people I studied in school, they're writers." For one of those who has elected to write, not to have written, for those who read, not to have read, this time he's right.
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I normally wouldn't spend this much space on a book getting mixed reviews. But Frazier is a "big" writer based on his success with Cold Mountain. I think it's interesting that he chose a Native topic for his followup.