I have shared many times on this blog I read for story, characters, setting, and what an author is trying to say about life. Story is my reading language. I don’t put down many books once I read them. However, if there’s no story, I’m out as a reader. I will admit that I don’t read for beautiful language. I know a lot of book lovers read for beautiful language. Words that soar off the page and have a sound that connects with their imagination. I can appreciate that aspect of reading and how the power of words can entrance you as a reader.
There is always exception to any self-imposed reading rule that one tries to adhere too. The Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday is that rule breaker for me. I liked the story of Locke Setman, known as Set. But the prose like this passage kept me reading and made me marvel at the beauty of these words:
He saw the black trees leaning
in different ways, their limbs
tangled in the mottled clouds,
the clouds rolling on themselves;
a wide belt of four colors,
yellow, orange, red, and black,
and stars in the tangled limbs.
A woman named Grey that has a fascination with Billy The Kid wrote that passage. Also, she has a divine connection to Set that will play out over the course of the novel in surprising ways. I found her just as fascinating as Set and knew their connection was inevitable.
Set is connected to a bear-boy that affects him deeper than he could have ever imagine. Momaday takes the hero’s journey in The Ancient Child on an interesting path that is part vignette, part poetry, and part prose fiction intertwining into a fascinating novel. I know this book deserves a second or third reading to get the full scope of Momaday’s story. The Ancient Child is one of my favorite reads of 2020, and I’m glad that I came across this book from a Goodreads recommendation. Older books (this was published in 1989) get overlooked, but if you want to read something unique and thought-provoking, this novel fits the bill.