Tehano: A Novel

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"Allen Wier has imagined a way to express an epic vision of the American experiment at its crossroads. From the antebellum era, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, Wier's sizable cast of characters—African American freedmen and slaves, Native American warriors and their women, Confederate and Union veterans, immigrants, and citizens high and low—pitch up in Comanche territory in Texas, enacting their destinies. Wier has breathed new life into representative American men and women in a style alive with realism, soaring with lyricism, and
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Overview

"Allen Wier has imagined a way to express an epic vision of the American experiment at its crossroads. From the antebellum era, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, Wier's sizable cast of characters—African American freedmen and slaves, Native American warriors and their women, Confederate and Union veterans, immigrants, and citizens high and low—pitch up in Comanche territory in Texas, enacting their destinies. Wier has breathed new life into representative American men and women in a style alive with realism, soaring with lyricism, and vibrant with humor. His understanding of the Native American and the African American experience is stunningly uncanny." — David Madden

"An extraordinary accomplishment: a novel of Tolstoyan scope. Here is the palpable savage young country itself, and its people with all their loves, fears, passions, hopes, dreams, and sufferings—human souls searingly brought forth from the swirl of history. It is a great work of fictive Art, and to my mind perhaps the finest achievement of my generation, no less."—Richard Bausch

With vivid and authentic detail and a storm of narrative power, Allen Wier's Tehano brings together historical and imagined events, giving readers a sense of the final years of the nineteenth century—a time both brutal and 8232 majestic—that spawned our present time. The disparate narrative skeins are collected through the efforts of Gideon Jones, a westering picaro who sets down his adventures and those of the people whose path his crosses.

Author Biography: ALLEN WIER has published three other novels, Blanco, Departing as Air, and A Place for Outlaws, and a story collection, Things Aboutto Disappear. A former Guggenheim and Dobie-Paisano Fellow, Wier has had fiction, essays, and reviews appear in such venues as Southern Review, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and The New York Times. A Texas native, Wier currently teaches in the writing program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

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Editorial Reviews

Baton Rouge Advocate
The action in Wier’s novel is so good, the characters so vivid and the scenery so memorable, that the pages just whip by.
Dallas Morning News
"Tehano is a terrific novel, an epic tale of the Western frontier that is superior to Lonesome Dove: better written, more smoothly plotted, more historically accurate. It may well be the Great Texas Novel.
Denver Post
Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove has became the novel about the Old West by which subsequent similar novels are judged. Allen Wier’s epic Western just might be the one to finally give McMurtry a run for his money.
Los Angeles Times
Tehano succeeds because Wier has a grand vision rooted in a jeweler’s particularity that encompasses both the tragic and the comic. This broadness of vision sustains Wier’s daring imagination, which allows us to fully inhabit the disparate lives of his characters.
Publishers Weekly
With 17 major characters and countless minor ones, Wier's latest (after 1989's A Place for Outlaws) is a complex story of Texas from 1842 to 1866, replete with cowboys, Indians, soldiers, settlers, liars, thieves, slaves, scoundrels and a hapless frontier mortician. Gideon Jones is an itinerant undertaker, aspiring journalist and optimistic lightning rod salesman who heads to Texas for adventure. He writes in his journal about the people he meets, creating a convoluted series of crisscrossing plots: one set of white twin boys fight on opposite sides in the Civil War; another pair of Comanche Indian twin boys discover their relationship too late to save one another. There's also Knobby, an escaped slave searching for his wife and son who have been captured by Indians; Portis "Eye" Goar, a pragmatic and murderous cowboy; Orten Trainer, a one-armed con artist who assumes someone else's identity; and a group of unlucky sodbusters. Through Civil War battles, Indian wars and gunfights, the characters will meet: some will die, others will be traumatized and a few will reach old age relatively intact. Readers may wish that Weir had scalped portions of his manuscript, as the narrative, though impressive in scope, is too sprawling and relies heavily on gruesome depictions of violence to sustain momentum. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Wier's (A Place for Outlaws) fourth novel features Comanche warriors, Comanchero outlaws, runaway slaves, settlers in a wagon train, and a wandering undertaker named Gideon Jones, all of whose fortunes mingle on the high plains of Texas in 1865-66. Readers will find out, for instance, what it was like to be stolen by the Indians, not only for the abductee but also for the man who loves her and wants her back. Wier paints a sympathetic picture of Native American life in a time of catastrophic change, with the fortunes of one band symbolizing the fate of the Numunu people. It has been a long time between novels for Wier (A Place for Outlaws was published in 1989), but he makes a strong comeback with this vividly imagined account of many lives on the Texan frontier. Recommended for general fiction collections.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Texas-sized novel of the way west-by-southwest. When we first meet Gideon Jones, Portis Goar and Knobby Cotton, we're on the outskirts of Cormac McCarthy country: After all, Knobby has just shot Portis-better known as Eye, though Eye Goar is probably not meant to call Young Frankenstein to mind-plumb through the chest, and Jones, "the itinerant drummer of lightning rods, self-taught undertaker, and fledgling journalist" is busily packing cedar sap into the wound to stop the bleeding. We never quite enter the territory, though. Wier's language is less exacting and less exalted than McCarthy's, and though it has something in common with that of Blood Meridian, the action is deliberate and sometimes mannered, without McCarthy's spasms of violence. Weir (Writing/Univ. of Tenn., Knoxville) nods at other books, especially Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, in this ambitious novel of the troubled settling of Texas, once populated by characters with names such as Melon Breasts Woman and White Rump. There are many ghosts and half-buried skulls about this multicultural place, where Yankees mingle with Rebels and blacks and Comanches and Germans and various mixes of the aforesaid, the blend of people who would come to be called Tejanos. Like soldiering for the ill-fated Confederacy, as one character observes, Wier's narrative strands often "don't turn out the way you expected," notably in the matter of a poor fellow named Alexander Wesley, who carries his amputated arm with him and pays a steep price for his devotion to his former limb. There are surprises and solid payoffs in the twisting plotline, which weaves the stories of many characters, the luckiest of whom make it through in one piece andalive to do the business of settling the West-until, that is, Wier brings this long, winding tale to a close and bumps off even the most likable of them. A leisurely, credible recreation of the Lone Star past.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870745065
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Pages: 736
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.20 (d)

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