Every year a few shops in downtown Little Falls host a Christmassy open house, many serve samples of mulled ciders and decorated cookies. Each year my mother and I take the downtown stroll and visit the participating shops to smell $6.00 bars of soap and decorative candles. I rarely purchase anything but I did this year, I bought a book from Bookin’ It. It was the last stop on our open house tour.
Weeks earlier I recieved an email from Laura Hansen at Bookin’ It announcing that Thomas Maltman, author of The Night Birds would be in the store to sign copies of his new book. Since I’m a book dealer by trade I know I should pay attention to these opportunities but I don’t. I’m not as good of a book dealer as I could be maybe because I only run the business so I can stay home and write. Maryjude, an employee of Bookin’ It offered a run down of the discounts of the day and then began telling my nephew and I about Maltman’s book. Fascinated, I made my way to his table and talked to him about his book and bought a copy which I am excited to begin reading.
Since I am sure I will fail at capturing my conversation with Maltman I’ve included an excerpt from Publishers Weekly about his debute novel.
Set in the 1860s and ’70s, Maltman’s superb debut evokes a Midwest lacerated by clashes between European and Native American, slaveowner and abolitionist, killer and healer, nature and culture. Asa Senger, a lonely 14-year-old boy, is at first wary when his father’s sister, Hazel, arrives at his parents’ Minnesota home after a long stay in a faraway asylum, but he comes to cherish the mysterious Hazel’s warmth and company. Through her stories, Asa learns of his family’s bitter past: the lore and dreams of their German forebears, their place in the bitter divide over slavery and, most complex of all, the bond between Hazel and the Dakotan warrior Wanikiya that deepens despite the violence between their peoples. Maltman excels at giving even his most harrowing scenes an understated realism and at painting characters who are richly, sometimes disturbingly, human. The novel sustains its tension right to the moment it ends with an adult Asa at peace with his own complicated heritage—a tentative redemption that, the book’s events as well as our own world’s disorders suggest, is the best for which the human heart can hope.
-A STARRED REVIEW IN PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY—6/25/07