At the turn of the 20th century, the book’s protagonist Will lives in the same house he has occupied for nearly nine decades in the southern
“I knew her grandfather back in the slavery days. Knew him and owned him, if I’m to tell the truth. I still wonder why he didn’t cut my throat… I’d have had it coming.”
Upon starting to read this book I immediately wondered how I could enjoy a story written through such unapologetic eyes. Yet as I turned each page it became apparent it was neither Frazier’s characterization nor his plot that was pulling me through. Rather, it was his thoughtfully written prose and well researched account of Cherokee life in the 19th century.
What I liked most about Thirteen Moons is the perspective it offers on indigenous people and colonialism in
What I liked least about Thirteen Moons was the “mysterious and beautiful” character of Claire; the love of Will’s life. She was a little bit too mysterious for me, to the point of seeming simple and selfish. As Will is driven to win and loose everything for the sake of love, I would have liked to have some inkling as to what made Claire so compelling. Frankly, she just seemed dull.
Frazier’s writing style, as we experienced in his first book
But don’t worry, these are not plot spoilers. As a story told in hindsight there are few surprises. Rather, Thirteen Moons reads like a series of short moral tales that are humorous, melancholic and endearing. Any sense of action or dramatics seems to get buried beneath Frazier’s verbosity. So while the blurb may sound like a rollicking adventure, Thirteen Moons is actually more like a stroll through history that places more emphasis on place rather than pace.In conclusion: read it, but don’t read it all at once. My advice is to do what I did and lose the book halfway through and forget about it. Then, three weeks later find the book under your bed and pick up where you left off. It doesn’t go anywhere fast, but it does offer a poetic and personal glimpse into a distant and harsh period of American history.