April 24th, 2008

breaking bad

Thirteen Moons

I am reading Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (who wrote Cold Mountain). It's the story of an orphan - of European origin - who is sold into bonded labour by his wicked aunt at the age of 12, and has to run a trading post in the Cherokee nation, in the mid-nineteenth century. He is semi-adopted by an old Native American who clings to the old ways and falls in love with the daughter of another, who has become a wealthy landowner. The story is fairly conventional (as that synopsis will tell you) but the writing is good.

I briefly reviewed Cold Mountain once, and said he reminded me of Ursula Le Guin, and Always Coming Home in particular. This book also reminds me of Le Guin.

There was plenty of time for thinking in the winterhouse with the snow banked almost up to the low eaves and the world silent as death except for the little trance-provoking sounds of the fire. I decided that many of Bear's stories and comments shared a general drift. They advised against fearing all of creation. But not because it is always benign, for it is not. It will, with certainty, consume us all. We are made to be destroyed. We are kindling for the fire, and our lives will stand as naught against the onrush of time. Bear's position, as I understand it, was that refusal to fear these general terms of existence as an honorable act of defiance.

Not only is it like Le Guin it is also like the Dao De Jing, and seems influenced by anthropology as her writing is.