Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Damn Good Book

A while back I purchased a book recommended by Dan Wickett , The Language of Elk, written by a young and upcoming writer, Benjamin Percy.

Dan offered the book at a great rate and it came personally signed to me by Benjamin. I was both puzzled and amused by his personalization - he crossed out "Elk" and added "Butterflies". After I had read his short stories, I realized that his writing contained both languages; both muscular and regal like the elk, and elusive, fragile and beautiful like the butterfly.

I was not sure what to expect with this book. I knew it was a compliation of short stories set in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Orgeon, but I was not prepared for the power of Percy's writing. Encompassing all ranges of emotions, these stories are quite unique and alternatingly haunting, disturbing, but also wickedly funny.

The title story is my favorite:

Evenings, when the sky goes pink and the shadows melt together, you'll hear it - so low and sad and frightening, a dark sound rising from a dark place, the deepest corner of lung, nested there like a secret. If your back is turned to the forest from which it pours, you'll turn around - quick - finding strength in the tight handshake of the walnut stock of your thirty-aught-six. Listen: a low-throated moan, faraway, copied by another, closer by, then another, then another.

This is the language of elk.

In the style of Rick Bass or Ellen Meloy, Percy is a consummate word-weaver, a first-rate story teller.

To serve as an apertif, here's a small sampling to pour into a reading shotglass.

You can find the book at Amazon, or email the author. Be sure to tell him Pattie sent ya!


joared said...

I like the language of this storyteller.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Joared!

Trace said...

Very nice indeed!