October 07, 2006

Another review of Thirteen Moons

"Thirteen Moons":  A legendary old witness to how West was "won"Through the incantatory voice of Will Cooper, Frazier takes us back to the 19th century, when the American creed of manifest destiny mowed down everything and everybody in its path. The 20th century and modernity are being born when Will hangs up his coonskin cap and offers the story of his life, one that mixes romance and politics with the spirit of Daniel Boone.

In lesser hands, this combo could easily implode. But Frazier is a remarkably meticulous and tasteful writer: He gives delightful flavor to the landscape (tree leaves are "squirrel-ear big," and the Mississippi parts the country "like a gash in meat"). He takes us back to a time and place when most homes were humble ("The cabin was set all around with mud and stumps"). Frazier similarly deconstructs the frontier culture: "I judged that being a whiteman here might not be as great an advantage as I generally counted on," Will notes on arriving in Cherokee territory.

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