Lauren's Reviews > Thirteen Moons

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
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Dec 26, 07

bookshelves: novels, historical-fiction
Recommended for: lovers of cowboys
Read in December, 2007

In many ways, Charles Frazier's Thirteen Moons reads like a homage to James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, as well as a gratuitous appraisal of the birth and death of U.S. cowboy culture. The protagonist and narrator, Will Cooper, might as well be a long-lost relative of Natty Bumpo (whom he often references), a white man "going native" in a small community of Cherokee. The most interesting thing about the book is Frazier's research into the lives and particularly the multi-ethnicity of the Cherokee tribes living on the border of the early United States in the 19th century. Little accurate historical accounts of these tribes have been published, and Frazier points to the discrepancies surrounding white idealizations of Native American culture. This critique, if anything else, made the book an interesting revisionist account of 19th century American history.
Unfortunately, the narrator of Cooper, as a self-made celebration of the American "bootstrap" myth, gets rather wearisome after a while. The book is styled as a memoir, and Cooper often points to moments that supposed altered his character from what it was "then" to the moment of his recollection; yet, Cooper's overall personality--his arrogance, his chauvinism, and his overall hubris--doesn't seem to alter, even when he says it does. Though undoubtedly Frazier is trying to construct a kind of caricature of the idealized "American", built on the myth of "True Americanism" and other frontier mythology, he does so at risk of ultimately alienating the reader. By the end of Thirteen Moons, Cooper's quaintly archaic attitudes become grating and undeserving of our attention, and we start to wonder whether or not the book was worth the last two hundred pages or not.
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Jean Interesting take from one apparently well read.


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