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Ledfeather Paperback – August 10, 2008
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Reading SGJ is challenging. His books do not make for easy reading. And thank you, Stephen, for that. Casual readers who gravitate to the bestseller list would probably not get past the first few pages of "Ledfeather" (or "All The Beautiful Sinners" and particularly not "Bird Is Gone: A Manifesto"). And what a shame, for the rewards to the reader who takes on the challenge are many.
I forgot who said it, though I suspect it was not just one individual, but reading is an active (as opposed to passive) activity. Reading someone like Dan Brown is akin to watching Zoolander (a movie I admit I like more than I should). Reading Stephen is more like watching a film by Bergman or Lynch or Tarkovsky, for example. And these three directors are typically not grouped together. The point I'm trying to make is that, like all great literature and film, the experience affects everyone differently, but it does affect them, not just entertain them. Meanings and linkages that are not readily apparent upon initial reading creep into the reader's minds later -- sometimes days, weeks or months later.
"Ledfeather." The novel opens with a blank page save a single sentence: "I remember you." Perfect for so many reasons, which, again, man not resonate until well after the last page is read. The main character -- Doby Saxon -- is SGJ's most memorable character to date.Read more ›
One story is about Doby Saxon, a boy on the Blackfeet reservation. A boy slowly sliding down a decline, and willing to go that way. And the second story is about Frances Delimpere, and Indian Agent who lived in the same place some 150 years before Doby. It's the story of how these two young men come in contact, of how their lives so far apart (and for so many reasons) finally touch, redeeming one another.
Lives that reach out across time is maybe not a new idea, but I like the way the author use it his own way, in a particular place - the reservation - that seems to have a power of its own.
The style Jones chooses to tell this story is also very peculiar. Especially in the first half, he plays with the point of view in a way that creates maybe some confusion (at least until you don't sort it out) but helps bringing down the walls we're used to have around us when we read a story, the same way he will then bring down the walls of time.
Still, I think I could have enjoyed the book even better if the style hadn't be so odd. In a way, it felt mannered and that sort of created a barrier between me and the story. Jones' voice is also very unusual, which is not a problem in itself. I got used to it after a few pages. But combining unusual point of view with unusual voice made it for a hard read in places. The middle part of the story, which is quite dreamlike, was particularly hard for me, not because I found it difficult to follow, but because it seemed to go round and round and never come to the point. I honestly think the book could have been shorter and not lose anything.
In spite of this, I'm still curious about this author and I think I'll try others of his stories.
I enjoyed the acknowledgements a lot. I know this sounds strange, but there I heard his voice clearer than in the story... maybe because it was less stylized?
Ledfeather, is a story of survival, but also a story of identity. A young Native American teen, Doby Saxton tries to discover his true identity outside the boundaries of the reservation that he lives on. Doby soon discovers that his identify is more complex than he thought. The novel is more complex than I thought it would be when I started to read this. I’m sure that we are all familiar with novels that expand upon the identity of a character over a given amount of time, however, Ledfeather is different. Jones quickly embeds another seemingly unrelated plot line into the novel, the inclusion of an Indian Agent 100 years before Doby. Through the struggle of the Indian Agent Dalimpere, readers start to understand the challenges that Doby encounters in his own time. It really makes you wonder if all struggles are eternal.
The plot itself is easy to understand despite the various folds, and incongruities that occur throughout the novel. The effect is there not to be flashy, but instead to make you think ‘outside of the box’. Sure, these tropes come up time and time again in modern fiction, however, Jones skillfully crafts Ledfeather into a novel that has great storytelling inside of a greater artistic medium; the novel. Outside of the plot line, the novel is a journey in itself. It changes in real time while reading it. For example, an event that took place earlier in the novel can suddenly come back with a bang in later chapters. Things that don’t seem significant at the beginning will suddenly become clearer near the end of the novel. The best part is that you don’t have to scrutinize the novel for meaning.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was very good. I had to get it for a class but wound up liking. However, without my whole class reading this in-deapth, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much... Read morePublished 19 months ago by PRbyChrisBowman
Ledfeather, set on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, tells the tragic story of an Indian boy Dobey, and an Indian Agent a hundred years earlier who has impacted the lives... Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Brian Helderman
Ledfeather is Stephen Graham Jones at his best! It is that narrative that's so distinctly his voice, but then it's him in the 1800s too. Read morePublished on July 3, 2012 by JL85