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the pathetic caverns - books by author - Jack Dann

eclectic reviews and opinions

Jack Dann

Counting Coup

Counting Coup is a booze-soaked, scary road trip driven by the cantankerous, prickly personality of Charlie Saris, a middle-aged guy who's neither very successful nor very nice, who somehow winds up accompanying John Stone, a medicine man who lost his gift in alcohol on a half-baked quest to redeem himself. Stone is feuding with another medicine man, Joe Whiteshirt, and several times the novel seems likely to become outright fantasy, an account of a supernatural struggle between the two Indians. But it never quite does; Saris never really credits the things he thinks he sees or feels, and the book's mystical side never comes to any definite resolution. In the afterword Dann makes it clear that this is deliberate, and also explains that the vivid hallucinatory description of a sweat lodge experience is drawn from his own experience, and that Dann himself was unclear what did or didn't happen to him in the sweat. But the choice leaves his novel in a weird grey area -- not a fantasy, but not a strictly "naturalist" novel either. The plot is linear and unsurprising, and I closed the book wanting something from it that it hadn't delivered.

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