BULLET HEART by Michael Doane


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 Doane (City of Light, 1992) uses a semisuccessful revolving narrative voice to relate the events following the discovery of a Native American's bones on the grounds of a South Dakota golf course in the early 1970s. When the state government appropriates the bones and refuses to return them, a group of Sioux begins stockpiling weapons at the Indian reservation in Choteau. The authorities eventually raid the cache, and Tyrone Little, an apparently Caucasian Vietnam veteran living on a farm outside of Choteau, is accused of having betrayed the rebels to the government. Tyrone and his lover, Delores Her Many Horses, a woman with a reputation who ``goes barefoot'' (doesn't use birth control), are at the center of the novel's nonpolitical story as well. Tyrone shoots another man, but the bullet passes through him and into Delores's womb, where it lodges in her fetus. Her son Joseph is born with a permanent scar on his chest, and many people ascribe his survival of that prenatal trauma to magical abilities they believe he still possesses. The many characters who speak their piece here make this a noisy novel, and Doane often has trouble differentiating their voices, even though each section begins with a name. (Some are in the first person and some in the third, but each gives a single character's point of view.) This blur of narrators is especially noticeable at crucial points in the plot--such as a shoot-out with federal agents--when the story is handed off rapidly from one character to the next. The longer chapters are more satisfying, and when he allows himself the space, Doane has a sharp method for bringing diverse parts together into a sinuous and surprising whole. Derring-do mixed with personal drama, sometimes bogged down by a crowded chorus. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection)

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42507-1
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994