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review– LIAR’S MOON, booklist 1999

In a high-plains atmosphere, a set of high-relief characters contends with the advance of civilization. Their first-person narratives interlock, and all revolve around the harbingers of the closing frontier, like cattle drives. “Brother” begins. An itinerant preacher, he encounters a woman in a creekside hovel who rambles about a coyote pack up the draw a-ways–thoughts of his lost brother (gone feral?) crowd the preacher. That hangs while Kimball reworks the captivity narrative. Autumn Tallgrass, a kidnapped white girl who prefers Indian ways to those of Texas settlers, marries Coyote Dropping, whose adventures encompass encounters with firewater, soldiers, Buffalo Bill’s showmanship, and the tragedy at Wounded Knee. The difficult migration to Kansas of emancipated blacks is experienced by “Spartacus.” Kimball poses these and other actors in an antiheroic manner on the way to a fade-out ending, perhaps his device to convey the idea that the West has no end and is endlessly reinterpretable. With its rugged vernacular, Kimball’s version valiantly reaches for readers daring for a western that breaks out of the genre’s conventions. (Reviewed July 1999) Gilbert Taylor.