Growing up in the care of the “old man” he was entrusted to at birth, Franklin Starlight has never really known his biological father, Eldon. The fleeting moments he shared with the alcoholic man have only ended in disasters that haunt the boy. But when father, coming to the end of his alcohol-ruined life, reaches out to sixteen-year-old son their first and last journey together begins. Hesitantly, Franklin obliges his dying father’s wish—to be buried as a warrior—and together they hazard the rugged and dangerous beauty of the backcountry to find an appropriate burial site.
Through the fog of pain, Eldon relates to his son the desolate moments in his life, as well as the times of hope—the family history Franklin has never known. As Father tells the tale, the Son, and the reader, live for the stories, in the hope that they will shed light on the mysteries of a tortured past.
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Praise and Prizes
“Less written than painstakingly etched into something more permanent than paper . . . Richard Wagamese bides his time, never rushing, calibrating each word so carefully that he never seems to waste a shot. . . . Though death saturates these pages, not a word here is lugubrious. Though revelations abound, there are no cheap surprises. . . . There’s nothing plain about this plain-spoken book.”
“A slim, beautiful, heart-wrenching novel . . . Richard Wagamese is a marvelous writer, and this is a treasure of a book.”
“Richard Wagamese has become a master. This brilliant novel is his heart song, his crowning achievement thus far.”
“A complex, rugged, and moving father-son novel . . . Richard Wagamese’s muscular prose and spare tone complement this gem of a narrative.”
“A deeply felt and profoundly moving novel, written in the kind of sure, clear prose that brings to mind the work of the great North American masters, Steinbeck among them. But Richard Wagamese’s voice and vision are also completely his own, as is the important and powerful story he has to tell.”
“Richard Wagamese is a keen observer, sketching places or people elegantly, economically, all while gracefully employing literary insight to deftly dissect blood ties lingering in fractured families. . . . A powerful novel of hard men in hard country, reminiscent of Jim Harrison’s Legends of the Fall.”