Monday, October 6, 2014

The High Divide by Lin Enger

Ulysses Pope has been baptized. He believes in prevenient grace and in God's eternal love and forgiveness. But he can not forgive himself and he goes on a quest to seek expiation. He screws up his courage and abandons his beloved wife and their two sons and journeys into the past, across the northern prairie to the High Divide, the rugged country between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers.

The Pope family live in Sloan's Crossing, Minnesota. Ulysses fought in the Civil War and was mustered out in 1866. What his wife Gretta does not know is that he reenlisted in '67 with the Calvary in Indian Territories, mustering out again in '69. He is obsessed by what happened. Gretta is a woman of strength and courage who left her native Denmark for America. As an abandoned woman she is prey to gossip and the power of the man who owns her home. Son Eli is on the verge of manhood, full of questions which only his father can answer. He sets off to trail his father. Younger brother Danny is prey to debilitating headaches and visions, but won't be left behind. Each faces a physical and psychological journey that entails danger and doubt, and tests their courage and love for each other.

Lin's descriptive language is poetic, and he limns dialogue with a verbal sparseness that speaks volumes. Each character has depth and clarity. The book addresses the great American themes of the dying West and the awful holocaust of Native American policy

The story is a journey quest story with a character nearly Biblical.

Can one atone for one's sins and live free again, face one's family without shame? Can one find a new baptism and rebirth and live again?

The High Divide
by Lin Enger
Algonquin Books

Publication September 23, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61620-375-7

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