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The River Godsby Brian Kiteley
"Brian Kiteley offers a distinctively intimate and haunting collection of narratives in his newest novel, The River Gods. He continues his exploration of the vignette story so unique and notable in his debut novel, Still Life With Insects, but effectively adds a new dimension to what has become an ever ubiquitous and often strained prose form. Kiteley proposes something completely different from his contemporaries in these well-crafted pages: a vignette novel that does not rely upon a tedious modus operandi to organize or thematically unify the collection into a cohesive whole. Instead, in a series of non-chronologic vignettes that span the breadth of almost 1000 years of American (and pre-American) history, The River Gods uses the subtle rhyme and reason of place to provide coherence. As a piece haunted both by place and history, it is place — the novel's setting — that connects Kiteley's rogue cast of characters, their histories, and their stories. Northampton, Massachusetts, and specifically the old banks of the Connecticut River, embodies the beating heart of this novel. It is the author's Eden, the fertile crescent, the epicenter for each of the novel's complicated and excruciatingly human characters." Andy Stewart, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
The River Gods is a novel in fragments, a mix of fact and fiction, in which various inhabitants of the area around what is now Northampton, Massachusetts, from the eleventh century through the 1990s, speak of their lives and of the community, a place haunted by the pervasive melancholy of extinguished desire.
Each of the voices — including a character named Brian Kiteley and his family, the original Native American inhabitants, the actor Richard Burton, Sojourner Truth, Richard Nixon, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jonathan Edwards, and many nameless others — ruminate on a past that is startlingly present and tangible. The main character, though, is the world of Northampton, irrevocably woven into the fabric of Western history, yet still grounded by the everyday concerns of health, money, food, love, and family. It is a novel of voices, the living and the dead, that illuminate the passage of time.
"In The River Gods Brian Kiteley masterfully employs his patent narrative method of uncanny subtraction, removing the ligatures of conventional fiction the better to provide a field of implication in which the historical mysteries of America can resonate to maximum effect....The River Gods is one of the most searching portraits of our country I’ve ever read." Eli Gottlieb
"Brian Kitely, a writer of great delicacy, perspicacity, and guile, has in The River Gods presented us with a cornucopia of bittersweet vignettes: glimpses of the lives and deaths, the loves and larks and sorrows of a New England town, told outside chronology and inside the vision of several centuries interlaced....[I]t deserves to become a classic, for all its sophistication a very American one: it tells us who we have been, in a way we never could have guessed." Harry Mathews
About the Author
Brian Kiteley is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver, and the author of Still Life With Insects, I Know Many Songs, But I Cannot Sing, The 3 A.M. Epiphany, and The 4 A.M. Breakthrough.
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