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Ledfeather Paperback – August 10, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Set on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, and spanning 125 years, this is a mesmerizing tale of characters bound by the mystical ties of familial love, death wishes, and survival. Opening with the near death of Doby Saxon from exposure, the tale leads the reader backward and forward in Doby’s pathetic life, always returning to his futile attempt at killing himself by stepping in front of speeding cars near the Starr School. The scene shifts to 1884, and the letters written by an Indian agent on the Blackfeet Reservation to his wife—letters never sent, never opened. He witnesses the attempts of a 12-year-old Blackfeet boy to stone himself to death. The two stories are tied by characters and emotions, coincidence and magic realism—but ultimately by Blackfeet author Jones’ deft portraits of the seemingly hopeless life on this reservation, years apart but similar in myriad ways. His depiction of how small events eventually lead to apparently preordained outcomes, and how these outcomes come full circle over decades, is masterful. --Deborah Donovan

Review

"Stephen Graham Jones's Ledfeather unfolds like an automobile accident in slow motion. The novel's moments of drama expand continuously and seamlessly to include the historical past and to prefigure the present. He writes with a compelling sense of omnipresent danger and the fragility of human survival, and the reality he creates is riveting."
--Barry Lopez
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Fiction Collective 2; 1St Edition edition (August 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573661465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573661461
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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"Ledfeather" represents a breakthrough for author Stephen Graham Jones. It is his most perfect novel to date, exceeding even the brilliant "All the Beautiful Sinners." An overreaction? Perhaps. My strong reaction to this novel may have more to do with my growing understanding and appreciation of SGJ's prose in general rather than the story told in "Ledfeather." Most likely it's a combination of both.

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.
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In what is either his latest or second-latest novel (see 'The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti), Stephen Graham Jones' 'Ledfeather' is a powerful piece of prose, a work that burns into your mind. Concerning the young and luckless Doby Saxon, his suicide attempts and the whole of the Blackfeet people, Jones weaves a connection from the past right to Doby's pitiful existence, to the redemption he seeks. Beautifully written, 'Ledfeather' is Stephen Graham Jones most poignant work to date, and is highly recommended. Transcending genre, culture, this is a work about guilt and redemption.
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This is a very peculiar book. It tells not one, but two stories.
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?
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Stephen Graham Jones has a voice that transcends time and play. This journey back and forth between two different Blackfoot Indian histories is both an archive and a comment on today. This story sucks you in from the beginning, sprinkled with letters that may or may not ever have been mailed, and ends with a revelation and bit of magic takes this novel to a whole other level. The mythology and lore in here is captivating, shocking, and touching in its scope. I always enjoy Stephen's work, and this is one of his best.
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Ledfeather is another excellent work by Stephen Graham Jones. Although it begins abruptly, it will stay with you to the end and beyond.

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.
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