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The late movie director Capra (1897-1991) made himself the hero of this recently discovered novel about a deputy in the Sierra Nevada trying to do right by two hermits.

Capra was a frequent visitor to the Silver Lake region, and in this tale, two local hermits are proving to be a hindrance to developers who see money in the unspoiled, and increasingly popular, territory. In this novel he wrote in 1966, the hero is named Frank Capra; what there is of the plot is set in motion when he aids a deputy (given the salt-of-the-earth moniker Lefty) in leaving deer meat for the two woodsmen, thus breaking the law, losing Lefty his job, and setting up the Capra-esque stand against the greedy developers. There were always two Frank Capras, the one who made tough, wised-up melodramas in his early days, and the rank sentimentalist who made movies like It's a Wonderful Life. The latter is the famous one, the one that made Capra beloved and the one that fairly oozes out of this curio. The characters have names like Dry Rot and Wonder Boy and Hoppy. People can't answer the simplest question without a speech about our God-given rights in these United States. The lumpen civic-mindedness of it all is meant to be stirring but it's more like wading through syrup.

Some undiscovered texts are best left that way.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-947856-30-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Vireo/Rare Bird Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2018