FROM THE RIVER'S EDGE by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn


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 From the author of the story collection The Power of Horses (1990): a short, rather lackluster novel about the loss of culture and ethics among a Native American plains tribe. When the course of a river that runs through the Dakotahs' homeland is altered to accommodate the building of a hydroelectric plant, more than the flow of water is affected. Over 40 of John Tatekeya's cattle are missing, and he and the feds take two young tribal brothers to court. It's the first time that Tatekeya--a cattleman in his 60s who likes his booze and his mistress and, hating the hypocrisy of the white man, seeks solace in the sweatlodge of his ancestors--finds himself on the side of the law. He sees the theft by one of his own as a sign that tribal codes are breaking down. Eventually he wins his case, only to have his haystacks set on fire. Here are a novel and a writer in desperate need of an editor. What should be an engaging story, given the raw and rugged material and larger-than-life issues, is told in a monotonic, sacrosanct manner. There is no development; the characters are flat; good dialogue is virtually nonexistent (court transcripts are occasionally interjected), the description, at times, hyperbolic (``there were great ponderous waves on the gray water''). In all, Cook-Lynn's first novel reads more like a first draft, which is too bad since the writer obviously has something worthwhile to say.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55970-051-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991