Deep River

Atlantic Monthly. Jul. 2019. 820p. ISBN 9780802125385. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780802146199. F
Marlantes's debut, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, a story heavily influenced by the author's experience as a marine, received critical praise for its unblinking portrayal of innocence, patriotism, and violence. Here, Marlantes pushes deep into his family's past to create a generational tale about Finnish immigrants, American capitalism, and forgotten heroes. Inspired by the 19th-century epic poem The Kalevala and Marlantes's own family history, the narrative is set in 1900s America. Fleeing from Finland to Washington State, the Koski siblings find work in the nascent logging industry of the Pacific Northwest. Youngest daughter Aino watches her brothers and colleagues lose their limbs, health, and wages as the need for timber outpaces a concern for human capital. Swept up in the energy of the emerging labor union movement, Aino matures into a fiery advocate for organized labor and the dignity of the human spirit. However, an egalitarian ideology pits her against America's cresting wave of industrialization and its consolidation of power and wealth. Though the characters feel real, this angle can make them seem like mouthpieces for political movements at times.
VERDICT An admirable work, this monomyth is dense (maybe sometimes too dense) with Marlantes's gift for lyricism and evocative language. [See Prepub Alert, 1/14/19.]

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month