Otherworldly happenings are afoot when a Native American shaman withdraws from his calling in Mogan’s novel.
A butte rises 300 feet out of the soft-sand desert of the American Southwest. At its scorching foot sits a weather station where Tom has taken meteorological readings for the past six years, and where the Weather Bureau has posted Robin, a recent college graduate. Robin is a woman and a tad defensive in the male-dominated world of the service, but anxious to make her mark at a post that most people shun as too brutally desolate. Tom unnerves her at first, a calm but reticent gentleman who has a line of Navajo seers in his blood, though he has distanced himself from that life. He has an uncanny talent for describing the land during his weather reports; these can be somewhat fruity—“The east and west are like the edges of a giant ladle in which the liquid energy of the light pours”—but more frequently sharp in the mind’s eye: “As the sun sinks lower, each grain of sand casts a shadow on the next.” In writing that echoes the milieu—sere, elemental (“the moon was full—daylight without depth”) and touched with an ominous foreboding, like a bad omen sits just over the horizon—Tom encourages Robin, who is both drawn to the desert and finds it ungraspable, to meld with the land, invite it inside her and give herself over to it. As they grow more at ease with one another, and despite the strange episodes in the nighttime when Tom sleepwalks and Robin sees apocalyptic reflections in his fixed stare, they explore the butte together, there to find both the sacred and the profane, and to unleash a force from deepest history that will be their undoing.
An atmospheric ride, brief but realized, with a sure, discomforting hand at portent and a quicksilver administration of the surreal.