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A lugubrious debut about the unhappy fate of four people stranded for the winter in a cabin in backwoods Montana.

Narrator Sling and his old Air Force buddy Richard Henson found themselves imprisoned by snow when they had to crash-land Henson’s Piper Cub in the wilderness of Glacier National Park. It was a good news/bad news kind of moment: Sling and Henson were alive, but they had no idea where they were, and their plane was too badly damaged to get them airborne again. Fortunately, they discovered a hunter’s cabin nearby and took shelter there. Both Sling and Henson had both been POWs in Vietnam, so the prospect of a winter in the woods wasn’t exactly the worst predicament they’d ever faced. But their private demons—alcoholism, divorce, and depression, for starters—have been eating away at both of them for decades, and the enforced solitude of their situation now gives them even less opportunity for escape than the Viet Cong did. Before long, the two men are joined by Daphne and Opal, twin sisters who’ve gotten lost in the woods while searching for their runaway dog. Young and naive, the sisters seem just as estranged from real life as Sling and Henson do, albeit with considerably less cause. As the four plod along from day to day in search of food and heat, their lives become reduced to the barest essentials—a process that seems to have begun long before they were stranded—and they have to reexamine the meaning of events they’ve tried for a long time simply to ignore.

An excruciatingly interior story: plot and activity quickly fade in the face of remembrance, regret, and recrimination in a carefully worked-out narrative that becomes suffocating after a while.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-57962-088-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003