Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hell yeah. This is the way you want tragic stories to work out in real life. And yet nothing in Kate Niles' The Basket Maker seems contrived, even though she manages an upbeat ending for Sarah Graves, molested by her father; Trent McIntosh, burned by scalding water in a manhole; Barbara McIntosh, Trent's mother; Maddy Oodegard, widowed when her husband hanged himself in their basement; and Chief Ouray, the unquiet spirit of an Ute chief dead for decades. Sarah, Barbara, Maddy, Ouray, and even the Colorado mountains get to tell their part of the story, but I was never confused by the changes in narrator, and once I got started I didn't want to stop. The different voices in the novel are particularly fascinating -- ancient peaks or elementary school girl, they all sound right and believable. And the ending was somehow satisfying, heartwarming without being sappy -- there was hope even for those who had not deserved it, while the victims seemed on their way to healing.