September 30, 2006

Review of Frazier's latest

Thirteen MoonsUnlike the sober, Civil War-focus of "Cold Mountain," however, "Thirteen Moons" is a woolly, 19th-century-spanning picaresque--rueful in its general conclusions, no doubt, but comic in most of its particulars. The story largely unfolds in what we now think of as the East, but the novel is essentially a Western, an exploration of a youthful America's frontier that's akin to such apparently inspirational antecedents as Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove," A.B. Guthrie's "The Big Sky" and, in particular, Thomas Berger's "Little Big Man."

"Thirteen Moons" tells this familiar story from the perspective of the dispossessed Indian rather than the acquisitive white man. More accurately, the book provocatively synthesizes these two seeming opposites in the novel's protagonist and narrator, Will Cooper. An orphan sold by his skinflint relatives into indentured servitude, Will is dispatched to tend a wilderness trading post in an ominously blank expanse that his rudimentary map has simply labeled "INDIAN TERRITORY."

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And here is what the Oct. 6 issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY had to say about Charles Frazier's THIRTEEN MOONS:
(Because COLD MOUNTAIN was a National Book Award winner and a runaway best-seller,) Frazier snagged an $8 million advance for his second novel, the eager-to-please -- but less pleasing -- THIRTEEN MOONS.
Frazier remains a terrific describer of phenomena most of us never have encountered... It's fertile material -- so why is this novel so much less moving than COLD MOUNTAIN?
Maybe because building a novel from adventures strung out over a lifetime requires a deeply charismatic protagonist (Will Cooper isn't) and a juicy final payoff for sticking with him (which Frazier doesn't supply). COLD MOUNTAIN told the story of one man's long walk home, but Frazier made you feel the weight of every step. Will Cooper's tale is, by turns, amusing, bawdy, bloody, and poignant, but finishing one baggy chapter never leaves you panting for the next. B-.
Basically, the reviewer said that "Charles Frazier's new novel is well wrought, but lacks the spark of COLD MOUNTAIN."
All Best
Russ Bates