LITTLE BIG MAN by Thomas Berger


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A successful, serious but, crack-brained burlesque of Indian mores and frontier life, this tells the story of Jack Crabb, the 111-year-old lone survivor of Custer's last stand at Little Bighorn. (Berger is the author of Crazy in Berlin and Reinhart in Love, both of which had patches of unorthodox brilliance.) The manuscript purports to be a taped memoir, during the last year of Crabb's long life. Jack, and his sister Caroline, were taken captive by the Cheyenne Indians who ""tragically mistook"" Caroline for a man. Caroline escapes (and later reappears as a kind of Calamity Jane) but Jack is reared by the tribe and is named Little Big Man. Deserting the Cheyenne, he later falls in with white folk and like Huck Finn, can't stand them. Back with the Indians, Jack's wife and child (Indian) are lost to him when Custer attacks their village. But later, after meeting Wild Bill Hickok, he joins Custer's Seventh Calvalry and fights beside the General he had once sworn to kill. Custer's paranoid ravings during battle as he fires his pistols from the classic West Point stance are an inventive highlight in a book with obstreperous originality. However, its greatest triumph is its depletion of the Cheyenne and their attitudes toward life and death.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1964
ISBN: 0385298293
Publisher: Dial