American Meteor

Bellevue Literary. Jun. 2015. 208p. ISBN 9781934137949. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781934137956. F
Stephen Moran, a teenage Union Army bugler, is chosen to accompany President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train from Washington, DC, to Springfield, IL. He then follows the Union Pacific railroad west and becomes a photographer, ending up at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Along the way, he encounters Walt Whitman, Ulysses S. Grant, Crazy Horse, and General Custer. While initially sold on the virtues of Manifest Destiny, Moran sees firsthand its dark side, and his anger toward the deliberate destruction of Native American peoples leads him to exact revenge. Stephen is by design an unreliable narrator; he states numerous times that he is a habitual liar, and many of his recollections have the feel of tall tales. Framed as a story Stephen told to his doctor at the end of his life, the narrative rambles and loops and contradicts itself. The structure, setting, and demythologizing of American westward expansion draw obvious parallels to Thomas Berger's Little Big Man.
VERDICT Lock (Love Among the Particles) successfully blends beautiful language reminiscent of 19th-century prose with cynicism and bald, ugly truth. Recommended for most fiction readers.

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