More than a century of southern American history is compressed into this trio of sorrowful tales set in Memphis, Tennessee, by the author of the nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Grizzly Bear (1984). Tchula Homa, a tradition-bound Chickasaw Indian chief, does his best to resist the overwhelming influences of the encroaching White Men, but even he must acknowledge his fate as Andrew Jackson, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and even his fellow chiefs pressure the Chickasaw people to give up the fertile land surrounding what will soon become Memphis. In 1837, Tchula Homa, badgered, ridiculed, lied to and finally imprisoned, allows his disease-ridden tribe--once known as the proudest and ""purest"" remaining--to go west to the reservations. Before he leaves, he hides his favorite knife in a comer of his house. Twenty-three years later the knife is found by Sylvester, a slave on nearby Corelli Plantation, and it plays a decisive role as the destinies of Sylvester, his fellow slaves and associates (one of whom is Tchula Homa's half-brother), and the Corellis are found by events surrounding the Civil War. Ninety-two years later the descendants of the Chickasaws, the Corellis, and their slaves buy and perform in Memphis nightclubs, drift off to New York, Colorado and New Orleans, paint portraits and muse over their crumbling legacy as the old plantation house is razed to make way for a shoddy subdivision, and as drugs, violence and apathy take their toll. Hardly a story of deep delight, this is instead one long down-hill trajectory too often burdened with literary self. indulgence to survive its depressing message.