THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CAPTAIN N. by Douglas Glover

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CAPTAIN N.

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The Revolutionary War serves as a seldom-seen but solid foundation for Canadian-born Glover's (The South Will Rise at Noon, 1989, etc.) latest--a foray into some of the conflicting impulses and perspectives swirling through that formative period. Based in part on the actual experiences of Captain Hendrick Nellis, a Tory who fought against his American neighbors, the story emerges equally from Hendrick's exploits, the actions of his son, whom he kidnaps and forces to join his side, and from the strange adventures of a German girl who witnesses her family's slaughter by Indians and is almost killed herself, but who survives to become a feared medicine woman. Hendrick's son Oskar, a confused youth with a passion for writing, pens unsolicited secret reports to General Washington on elm bark even after taking up arms against the Americans. Adopting native ways himself as a leader of an Iroquois troop, his frenzy and lust are unabated in combat until he's shot by his cousin and suffers the loss of his closest friend to friendly fire. Meanwhile, Mary Hunsacker begins a new life among her captors, taking up with her assailant and living in the community until he dies on the warpath and she is abandoned for being too white in her grief. Hendrick's own mental state is extremely fragile; he suffers from increasingly severe migraines and depression as the war goes against the British, and in response slowly bleeds himself to the point of death. He brings Mary back to the white world, where she restores Oskar to health--but all of them continue to exist on the fine edge of madness, their lives utterly ruined by upheaval and loss. Darkly humorous, simultaneously restless and relentless in its patterning of voices and imagery, this is a close study of individuals trapped by a world in flux: a chaotic view of a new world order from the standpoint of the losers.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41573-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992