William T. Vollmann: The Dying Grass, Part I

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The rhythms of William T. Vollman's The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War (Seven Dreams: Book of North American Landscapes) (Viking) fluctuate between the poetic language of the Native American tribe and the stern diction of the military. Chief Joseph’s pursuer is General Otis Howard who is commanding soldiers still exhausted from the Civil War. The rise of corporate America begins with the ruthless acquisition of Indian land in this massively researched epic which evokes the language, the food, and the lost customs of the Nez Perce. This is the first of two conversations about Vollmann's novel of the 1877 war that destroyed the Nez Perce. (Part II follows on September 10.)

Read an excerpt from The Dying Grass.

Photo: Gregg Lewis