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Written by Timothy Sexton
The novel begins with an invitation: “come look.” Next a cinematic description of a river beginning from far away and slowly tracking inward, closer. With each movement forward, more of the river comes into focus, but at first, from a distance, it is:
“Metallic at first, seen from the highway down through the trees, like an aluminum rainbow, like a slice of alloy moon.”
In a contemplative mood, the narrator riffs on where he finds himself as he muses about where he’s been without trying too think too hard about where he’s going. The contemplation reaches a frenzy of metaphoric imagery as he describes logging country:
“This is a land for childhood frolic, with forests dark and magical and shady sloughs alive with chubs and mud-puppies, a land in which young and snub-nosed Dylan Thomas would have gamboled, red-cheeked and raucous as a strawberry, a town where Twain could trade rats and capture beetles”
The Union Rep
Floyd Evenwrite is the union representative for the loggers. The distinction between being a logger and being their rep is made abundantly clear through physical description:
“Up North, in Portland, Floyd Evenwrite sat like a rubber toy in a forty-dollar suit, stiff and inscrutable and gas-filled.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, even the women are described in metaphorical terms related to nature and outdoor life. Even those women attending prominent academic institutions:
“She was twenty-one and had one year to go for a degree at Stanford. She was dark-haired and slight, with delicate bones (like some kind of funny bird, stood there, like some kind of weird, rare bird always looking at the sky”
The forest does not take kindly to being chopping down. What appears to be the natural state of things turns out to be, metaphorically speaking, its methods of defense:
“The forest fought against the attack on its age-old domain…blackberries strung out barbed barricades…boulders reared silently from the ground to block slides that had looked smooth and clear…the very rain seemed to work at fixing the trees standing, threading the million green needles in an attempt to stitch the trees upright against the sky”
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