STORM COUNTRY by Pete Davies


A Journey Through the Heart of America
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 America's Great Plains--as seen through a glass darkly. In 1990, as British novelist Davies (Dollarville, 1989) cruised mid-America in an old Ford pickup, he might have crossed paths with Dayton Duncan, who was exploring roughly the same area in a GMC Suburban, preparing to report on his trip in Miles from Nowhere (p. 345). But the Briton and the Yankee found two very different countries. While Duncan took as his metaphor the land's vast emptiness, Davies takes as his its raging storms, particularly its numerous tornadoes, magnificent but deadly. And unlike Duncan's approach--respectful, even reverent, with deep delving into the region's history--Davies's take is sassy, sharp, and alienated, with little attention to the past: ``I was back in the heart of America now....It's the nearest thing I know to going to the moon- -and I love it.'' But does he really? No doubt Davies is in awe of the Midwest and its wild weather--his strongest passages here, crackling with energy, describe storms he evaded or chased--but he finds much to criticize harshly as well, from missile bases to racism (particularly against Native Americans, a theme that dominates the many--and filler-dull--pages detailing his visit to the South Dakota set of the film Thunderheart) to drunks and fools (about two Utah motel-owners: ``I'm talking a comedy double act of congenital idiots here, a short and shapeless mother and daughter, both lank of hair, slack of lip, stale of odor''). Throughout, one senses that although Davies looks with gusto at all the right places--a baseball game, a rodeo, a buffalo herd, a dance, a classic diner, and so on--he sees only America's surface, never its beating heart. Lively but not revealing--for that, see the Duncan or Ian Frazier's Great Plains (1989).

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40885-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993


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