Synopses & Reviews
Lem Purchase is in California when a call comes in the dead of night: his younger, disturbed brother in Nebraska announces his plans to carry out an act of terrorism targeting the state capitol building in Lincoln. This isnt the first time Lem has had to make a frantic check on Jackson. Nor is it the first time that author Robert Vivian has taken us to the haunted world of the Great Plains. Critics called Vivians first two books in the Tall Grass Trilogy “lyrical and harrowing” (Sven Birkerts on The Mover of Bones
) and “brilliantly written” (Publishers Weekly
on Lamb Bright Saviors
). In this third and final volume in the trilogy, Vivian weaves the voices of Lem, Jackson, and Lems estranged wife, Lissa, into an American triptych of longing, remembrance, and innocence—of hopes almost fulfilled and inevitably disappointed—as we race to Jacksons reckoning with history that must have its day.
While Jackson hatches yet another plan that rivals the first in madness and ultimately threatens Lems life, Lems reflections reveal what, and how much, that life has meant. In Jacksons determination we encounter another view of what matters, as he clings to his apocalyptic notion of the only way in which the country can be reclaimed from its present madness.
"A meditation on the innumerable manifestations of loss, Vivian's melodramatic new novel (after The Mover of Bones) opens on Dark Vespers, Neb., one year after the death of 17-year-old Kelsey Little. Since her body was recovered from the Sicangu River, Kelsey's loved ones have not moved far from the grief that has become their burden. Her parents, Hank and Sam, suffer privately, as does her older boyfriend, Javier, who Hank never approved of; the loss has only deepened their anger against each other, and the questions that surround Kelsey's disappearance three weeks before her death torture everyone. Why did a beautiful, well-adjusted girl run away and hide her pregnancy, even from Javier? Only Ike Parrish, a possibly crazy Korean War vet who communes with the Sicangu claims to know what happened to Kelsey through clairvoyant 'river spells.' Slowly, Kelsey's last days are revealed as each character's pain interlocks and catalyzes the other in a series of strange occurrences that lead them away from and back to Kelsey's death and the Sicangu. Sentimentality and an artificial folksiness bury the rare moments of beauty in this novel. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Its been a year since the body of seventeen-year-old Kelsey Little was found in the river outside Dark Vespers, Nebraska. Although the town may have reached an uneasy equilibrium, those who loved her most have certainly not: Javier Martinez, her troubled ex-boyfriend and the father of the child no one knew she was carrying; Sam and Hank, her parents, whose marriage is coming apart under the pressure of grief and not-knowing; and Ike Parrish, a reclusive eccentric whose clairvoyant “river spells” compel him to come forward with information about Kelseys disappearance and death.
A prismatic look at the impact of loss on individual lives, Water and Abandon tells the moving and paradoxical story of those brought together by the very thing that tears them apart. Haunted by Kelseys death, each struggles with his or her own demons of blame and guilt, despair and fury—until one, in a confusion of pain, grief, and unrequited love, decides to do something dire. As deeply felt as it is finely crafted, the novel confirms Robert Vivians place among the most interesting fiction writers of our day.
“Robert Vivians prose is lyrical and harrowing—harrowing in the Biblical sense,” Sven Birkerts said of The Mover of Bones, the first book in Vivians Tall Grass Trilogy. That same lyrical power carries this new volume to a place of hard-won hope and redemption at once both spiritual and earthly. Lamb Bright Saviors begins as an apocalyptically inclined itinerant preacher staggers across the Nebraska prairie. With his young assistant, Mady, in tow hauling a wagon stacked with bibles, its not long before the preacher finds hes come to the final fulfillment of his self-proclaimed lifes work: to die in front of a group of strangers. Odd as his own end-of-days might be, the lives and struggles of the strangers attending this deathbed scene are even odder. As the dying preacher unleashes a barrage of hallucinatory ramblings and rantings in the hope of imparting wisdom, each ragtag member of this unlikely congregation must reckon with his or her own dark past. And, through it all, the irrepressible Mady lends the preachers strange performance a surprising and unforgettable dignity and humor.
Young Harriets father sells her as a slave to settle his gambling debt with an eccentric Indian—and her story is just beginning. Part Huck Finn, part True Grit
, Harriets story of her encounter with the dark and brutal history of the American West is a true original. When she escapes the strange mound-building obsession of her Pawnee captor, Harriet sets off on a trek to find her father, only to meet with ever-stranger characters and situations along the way. She befriends a Jewish prairie peddler, escapes with a chanteuse, is imprisoned in a stockade and rescued by a Civil War balloonist, and becomes an accidental shopkeeper and the surrogate mother to an abandoned child, while abetting the escape of runaway slaves.
A picaresque in the American vein, Terese Svobodas new novel is the Bohemian answer to Willa Cathers iconic My Ántonia. Lifting the shadows off an entire era of American history in one brave girls quest to discover who she is, Bohemian Girl gives full play to Svobodas prodigious talents for finding the dark and the strange in the sunny American story—and the beauty and the hope in its darkest moments.
About the Author
Robert Vivian is a professor of English and creative writing at Alma College in Michigan and a core faculty member in the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of, most recently, The Least Cricket of Evening
and the Tall Grass Trilogy, which includes The Mover of Bones
, Lamb Bright Saviors
, and Another Burning Kingdom
, all available from the University of Nebraska Press.