"Swift Dam," the new novel by veterinarian and writer Sid Gustafson, is a beautifully evocative exploration of memory and landscape, history and generational relationships. It is set on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, where Sid grew up as part of the prolifically creative Gustafson clan.
Ed Kemmick, Last Best News
The best novels, however one defines them and judges them, include the knowledge of something we've known little about on the level of expertise that the practitioners have. Consider "Moby Dick." In this novel Moby Dick is a monumental rebuilt dam and the special knowledge is about horses and veterinary meds and instruments. Flesh of several kinds.
Mary Scriver, Pondera County Historian and Essayist, aka Prairie Mary
"Sid Gustafson writes like the language is a race horse and he is the rider, ready to go as far and fast as they both can go. He is in love with words, especially as they attach to the weather, terrain and inhabitants of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, one of the most unforgiving and beautiful regions on the planet. He knows what he's talking about. Listen to him." Deidre McNamer, author of Rima in the Weeds, One Sweet Quarrel, and My Russian
Local author (and veterinarian) Sid Gustafson's latest book, Swift Dam (Open Books, $15.95), is set against the real-life tragedy of the Swift Dam collapse in 1964, when 30 people died in damcollapses and flooding in northwest Montana. Gustafson tells the story of a veterinarian and his life, work, and relationship with the Blackfeet Nation. The doctor, Fingers Vallerone, mourns the losses of not just the individuals but of a culture. Gustafson embodies the storytelling culture in his distinctive style of prose. The discourse is at times sparse, and yet at others curiously insistent. Itis a fast read, but tantalizing threads leave you picking through them long after you have finished. Gustafson uses landscape as the language of the Blackfeet Nation, and his intimate knowledge and sense of place shines through. Gustafson's text seems to be a man's book about men, with a masculine, almost patriarchal tone that probably reflects its characters. --DEBBIE DREWS
From the Author
Big Sky Journal reviews Swift Dam
Practicing veterinarian and journalist Sid Gustafson's new novel, Swift Dam (Open Books, $14.95) is a short but satisfying read. In telling the story of an elderly veterinarian who sits out one long night under the dam and recalls the day of the great flood 50 years earlier that wiped out a large Blackfeet community, Gustafson evokes the landscape and the lives of an area still devastated half a century after the flood. But, of course, the wounds go much deeper and are much older. And the mysteries surrounding the lives of the people are deep and entangled. Like Gustafson's previous novels, Horses They Rode and Prisoners of Flight, this is a book that demonstrates personal empathy and a sure hand with image.
Erin H. Turner, Arts Issue, 2016