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A Season of Fire & Iceby Lloyd Zimpel
Synopses & Reviews
The patriarch Gerhardt Praeger, a farmer of some education and experience, understands the mixture of hard work, ingenuity, ethic, grace, and sturdiness of spirit required to settle the hard territory of the Dakotas. He, along with his wife and seven sons, must constantly face natural disasters and manmade challenges to carve out their holdings in an unforgiving land that has defeated so many of their neighbors, sending them home to their families back East.
Praeger believes God will provide sufficiently, if not in abundance, to those who can resist the twin challenges of pride and greedy over-reaching. But his exasperating new neighbor, the bold Beidermann, stirs both his envy and curiosity to test Praeger's moral imperatives. His remarkable journal entries chronicle the increasingly tense events between them and are bridged by a compelling narrative that moves their entire universe toward calamity.
The result is an almost biblical story of self-revelation, of a man striving to guide his family and to civilize his own impulses as they contend with the wild land.
"Zimpel's second novel (after 1971's Meeting the Bear) uses the Dakota Territories as the venue for the moral reckoning between traditional family ideals and independent capitalist survival. Told mainly via Gerhardt Praeger's journal entries, the novel spans six years (1882-1888) and charts a father's struggles with nature as his seven sons grow increasingly independent. Unwelcome influence comes in the form of Beidermann, a new settler who challenges Praeger's common values; he appears from out of nowhere and possesses, independent of any reliance on God or society, an almost supernatural ability to evade the catastrophes — grasshopper swarms, drought — that lay low the rest of the settlers. The story has the spare drama of parable, with totemic signposts — twin sons, a brooding and amoral outsider, plagues of locusts, a child marked from birth by a port-wine stain — providing a pleasing narrative that pulls the reader into the greater significance of this seemingly simple clan feud." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A beautifully written novel that offers strong character portrayals." Booklist
"To read Lloyd Zimpel's superb new novel...A Season of Fire & Ice is to be reminded, in gripping detail, of the pride we can all take in immigrant American grit....This is a splendid book, and it belongs on every reader's bookshelf as a reminder of the forging of America." San Francisco Chronicle
"Zimpel makes his mark reviving a lost generation through language....With Fire & Ice, Zimpel has crafted an elegant and memorable work of character-driven pioneer fiction. Let's hope we don't have to wait another 30 years to hear from him again." Denver Post
From the heartlands
of the 1880s
comes a morality tale
of survival and destiny.
About the Author
Lloyd Zimpel was born and raised in the Upper Midwest. He now lives in San Francisco, where for many years he worked for the California Fair Employment Practice Commission. He is the recipient of an NEA fiction fellowship and the author of a previous novel, Meeting the Bear, as well as numerous short stories.
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