jeremy's Reviews > Moontrap

Moontrap by Don Berry
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Aug 01, 10

bookshelves: oregon, fiction
Read in July, 2010

the second of don berry's "trask novels," moontrap is set two years later (in 1850) and some eighty miles further east (in oregon city) than its predecessor. while there are a few recurring characters from the first book, this novel revolves around former mountain man (and friend of elbridge trask) johnson monday. monday has resigned himself to the less exciting life of farming, yet still yearns for the freedom of roving the cascade range. monday has a hard time adapting to his new trade and the many changes taking place in the burgeoning oregon territory only make his acclimation all the more difficult. monday's new way of life is irrevocably changed when an unexpected tragedy begets more violence.

moontrap, for all its adventure and rich prose, does not shimmer with the same raw intensity as does trask. it does, however, possess a similar descriptive brilliance and compelling narrative arc. don berry's works are far from the formulaic outings often associated with westerns and they address issues generally absent in lesser works of the genre. moontrap is more than just a memorable work of fiction, it is also an essential novel in the great canon of pacific northwest literature.

he was now coming into country that suited him better. with the ending of the flat land the ugly traces of man ended. here there were no scars on the face of the land where man had cut and burned and ripped the earth with his filthy metal plows. it was something he could not understand, this mindless violation of what existed and was good; the insensate drive to make the world conform to man's size and comprehension, the violent rape of the earth by which he spread his ugly and diseased seed. it was a futile thing, a witless viciousness, and there were times when the thought of it made the old man sick. he did not understand any of it, and yet he had seen that, for some, there was a meaning and importance that escaped him, and that was frightening. they gained something from all this ugliness and destruction, something he did not know. they broke their lives against the stones of the earth, and killed joy and freedom with their grimness, and seemed to think their lives were good in proportion as they suffered in destroying what was natural.
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