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."

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