In Calamity's Wake

In Calamity's Wake

A Novel

Book - 2013
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Set in the badlands of the North American west in the late 1800s, In Calamity's Wake tells the story of orphaned Miette's quest to find her mother, the notorious Calamity Jane.

Miette is reluctant to meet the woman who abandoned her--whom she knows only as an infamous soldier, drinker and exhibition shooter--but she sets out nonetheless across a landscape peopled with madwomen, thieves, minstrels and ghosts, many of whom add a thread to the story of her famous mother.

Interspersed with Miette's story are the stories of Jane as told in legend, history books, dime store novels and by the woman herself. As Miette makes her way to Deadwood, South Dakota, history and myth collide to create a picture of a remarkable woman whoshattered the expectations of her time, and a daughter who must confront the truth of her past. As in Billy the Kid or HBO's Deadwood, In Calamity's Wake blends fiction with real conversations and events to transport us, through vividly crafted atmosphere and seductive storytelling, to a side of the Wild West we've never seen before.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781443406703
Branch Call Number: CAP
Characteristics: 296 p. ;,19 cm

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melwyk Jul 03, 2013

This is a Western, a modern Western that owes much to the dreamscapes of modern film, to magical realism, and to feminist rewritings of the great themes of epic Western novels.

The story ranges over the West, with barrooms, outcasts, wolves, outlaws, danger, prostitutes, vaudeville, and many other western tropes. It mixes fiction with historical fact, on both people and events, and creates a collage-like reading experience.

I admire this book, for its creativity (and the gorgeous book design) but it's not something I'll read again. Stories about the West intrigue and fascinate me generally, but I just couldn't fully connect with this one.

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