A RIVER RAN OUT OF EDEN by James Vance Marshall


Email this review


The author of Walkabout (p. 409, 1961) set in Australian bush country, turns to another far corner of the world in his new short novel -- a tale of innocence protected in the desolate beautiful setting Unak, an island some 150 miles north of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. There Jim Lee, a scarred hunter, and his Eskimo wife Tania, much younger than he and a former chi-chi girl, go to live and hunt the golden seal. Jim's dream -- to bring a golden pelt to the market place -- comes close when his son Eric chances upon a golden seal and her two pups while sheltering in a sod hut against a deadly blizzard. But Eric loves the golden seal, who accepted him when she could have killed him, so that when he tells of her existence he exacts a promise from Jim that he will never harm her. The blizzard has thrust evil into the Lees' paradise in the form of a ruthless young hunter, also determined to have the golden seal, and Tania as well. When Crawford wheedles Eric's secret from him, no promise will hold him. The discarding of his promise to the boy leads to his death through the great bear waiting for meat by the side of the Secret Pool. Evil is destroyed, the golden seal goes free to the sea, peace comes again to Unak -- and Jim Lee forsakes his dream, content in his present happiness. Tinged with myth, this narrative is pleasing in its sentiment and vision.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1963
Publisher: Morrow