Steven Howes's Reviews > Swift Dam

Swift Dam by Sid Gustafson
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it was amazing

I have read many good books over the years. However every once in a while I come across one that seems to rise above the rest and "Swift Dam" is one of those books. Although a relatively short book (listed as 160 pages), it is a complex, interesting, and compelling story. Perhaps I am a bit biased; but it contains many of the elements I find important in a good read. These include a strong sense of place and the connection between humans, the land, animals, and one another. It is set in and around the Blackfeet Indian Reservation south of Browning, Montana.

The story involves the mysterious, nocturnal wanderings of country veterinarian Dr. Alphonse "Fingers" Valerone and his connection to the failure of Swift Dam during catastrophic flooding of 1964. Although an outsider, Fingers develops close relationships with the Blackfeet Indians and learns many things from them that help him in his veterinary practice. He also learns that water can bring both life and death and is impossible to control. Sometimes, the old ways may be better in the long-term and perhaps the spirits can lead us in the right direction if we are open to hearing them.

This book reminded me to a degree of some of the works of Ivan Doig, one of my favorite authors. The setting is the same as a number of Doig's novels and the ending is both unexpected and heart-warming.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 25, 2017 – Finished Reading
February 27, 2017 – Shelved

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