SPOON by John Christgau


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Alexander Featherstone is an Army illustrator in Minnesota, circa 1862, and his Santee Sioux interpreter Am-Da-Cha (nicknamed Spoon, for the utensil he always wears around his neck) is one strange Indian. Sort of a Zen monk, all contrariness and vexing statement. Crabwise, they together manage to crawl through the Great Minnesota Sioux Uprising of the Dakota Indian Wars, Featherstone taking it all in with his pen and Spoon, renowned ""for raising up drowned bodies and being mainly skeptical,"" walking through the carnage like it was a crafts fair. Captured once by the Indians, then by the U.S. Army, with Spoon subsequently sentenced to death on the charge of having spiked a cannon--he plugged up the bore with discarded clothing--Featherstone journeys to Washington in search of a Lincoln pardon. He succeeds, sort of, skewed logic being the book's theme, but the pardon doesn't prevent Spoon's eventual death by hanging. Christgau's first novel is told in Featherstone's courteous period style, and if finally we get more of a sense of clever conception than comic drive, we still have been fairly well entertained.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Viking