The Dying Grass
In this new instalment in his acclaimed Seven Dreams series of novels examining the collisions between Native Americans and European colonizers, William T. Vollmann tells the story of the epic fighting retreat of the Nez Perce Indians, with flashbacks to the Civil War.
Defrauded and intimidated at every turn, the Nez Perces finally went on the warpath in 1877, subjecting the U.S. Army to its greatest defeat since Little Big Horn the previous year, as they fled from northeast Oregon across Montana to the Canadian border. Vollmann’s main character is not the legendary Chief Joseph but his pursuer, General Oliver Otis Howard, the brave, shy, tormented, devoutly Christian Civil War veteran. In this novel, we see him as commander, father, son, husband, friend, and killer.
Teeming with many vivid characters on both sides of the conflict, and written in an original style in which the printed page works as a stage with multiple layers of foreground and background, The Dying Grass is another mesmerizing achievement from one of the most ambitious writers of our time.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
This extraordinarily detailed historical novel depicting the Nez Pierce wars and the epic fighting retreat of Chief Joseph across thousands of miles is a tour de force. In scope, ambition and originality, the endlessly inventive Vollmann exceeds even his past efforts, creating a new kind of prose to convey layers of thought, speech and action on the page. Truly a book like no other and a stunning achievement.