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The Mercy Seat

Askew, Rilla

Verlag: Viking Adult, US, 1997
ISBN 10: 0670874671 / ISBN 13: 9780670874675
Gebraucht / Hardcover / Anzahl: 1
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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The Mercy Seat

Verlag: Viking Adult, US

Erscheinungsdatum: 1997

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand: Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition


0670874671 Very good in Very good dust jacket. First Edition. Quality, Value, Experience. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING408.PPP6313

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Inhaltsangabe: In deep winter, early February 1887, two brothers, John and Lafayette Lodi, flee Kentucky in the middle of the night, heading west toward Indian Territory. The men carry their families with them in covered wagons, and - hidden between them - a corrosive rivalry born of the inescapable bond of blood. John, tortoise-stubborn, is a master gunsmith; Fayette is jealous, grasping, a mule thief and bootlegger. Between the brothers, an ancient tragedy threatens to play itself out. Thus opens "The Mercy Seat," an unblinking, keen-eyed vision of the settling of the American West, told first by Mattie, the ten-year-old daughter of John Lodi, and echoed in the voices of the white townspeople who migrate into the Indian lands. Set in the harsh and beautiful Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma, the novel follows Matt as she struggles to hold her disintegrating family together with a mix of spite, loyalty, and fierce will. When Mattie is struck down by fever, a Choctaw healer brought in to pull the girl back from the territory of the dead recognizes in her a powerful gift of visions. But Matt turns away even from this imperative call in her desperation to restore her family to their home back East. As the bitter conflict mounts between John and Fayette, so does the war between her visions and her will - and in the final, unavoidable clash, Matt will hold both mercy and destruction in her hands.

Rezension: The Mercy Seat is a powerful novel, rich with biblical allusions and authoritative, haunting depictions of the landscape and life of the American West in the second half of the 19th century. The story begins as a young girl, Mattie, is called from sleep to help her father prepare for her family's flight from their Kentucky home, its pie safe and its oak bed frames. Reasons for their sudden departure are only slowly revealed and never completely explained.

The center of the evolving story is the conflict between Mattie's father and his brother. John Lodi is skilled in the art of blacksmithing and gun making; Fayette Lodi is anxious to use that skill to turn a profit for himself. Although the brothers travel west together and eventually settle in the same corner of Oklahoma in the valley of the San Bois Mountains, they have no shared ideas on how to create new lives for themselves or their families. Violence eventually erupts, but it goes beyond the two brothers to infect their wives, their children, and the very land they inhabit.

It is a story that mirrors that of Cain and Abel, yet its biblical echo is only one of the features which make this multilayered, beautifully crafted novel so enjoyable. There are hints of Faulkner, too, as Askew employs his technique of using a number of voices to tell the story: there is Mattie herself, mother before her time to her younger siblings, yet refusing to mature into a woman; there is Thula Henry, Choctaw woman who both understands Mattie's gifts and tries to exorcise her demons; and Grady Dewberry, loquacious son of John's employer recalling events that marked his childhood.

This is more than just a simple repositioning of the Snopes from Mississippi to Oklahoma, however. It is a vision of the settling of America with a deep and abiding appreciation for the combustible elements that participated in it. Evangelical preachers riding their circuits, Native Americans pushed farther and farther west, former slaves freed from their masters but not from prejudice, and white men on the run from the law of the more settled East, all figure prominently. Some patience is required as the central tragedy looms, but for the most part, the novel is poignant, gripping, and even heartbreaking. --K.A. Crouch

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