A dazzling debut novel about two friendships separated by generations but bound together by a dark mystery.
Cookie Figowitz is the cook for a party of volatile fur trappers trekking through the Oregon Territory in the 1820s, desperate to find their way to the newly created Hudson Bay Company before their meager supplies run out. As he forages for food one evening with the hopes of placating the increasingly restless men, Cookie stumbles over Henry Brown, a man on the run from violent Russians looking to settle an old score. Cookie takes Henry in, hiding him from the trappers, and the two begin an unlikely friendship that will take them from the virgin territory of the West all the way to China and back again.
Tina Plank is a teenager who has been unhappily transplanted to a Pacific Northwest commune in the 1980s. The only other girl her age within five miles is Trixie Volterra, whose troubled past only adds to her allure. Thrown together by circumstance, the two become fast friends, and are soon hard at work trying to make an elaborate movie on a shoestring budget. When, in the midst of filming, two skeletons are unearthed on the property, the lives of Cookie and Henry, Tina and Trixie converge in unexpected, startling ways.
The Half-Life, with extraordinary power and grace, reveals the pleasures and heartaches that bind us to one another.
BETWEEN TWO RIDGES carved by a silver creek, in a forest of black fir trees, there was a place where the hills came to a shallow bowl and the earth went soft. The mountain heather and sword fern thinned at the edge of an open meadow, and a field of smooth cordgrass began, which led to the banks of a stagnant marsh.
In the summer, dragonflies flickered over the marsh's mirrored plane and frogs croaked from its damp shadows, while many-headed pussy willow bobbed in the wind. In the autumn, arrows of geese landed there, and during the spring mosquitoes rose to the surface at dusk, where hordes of bats would descend to pluck them from the air. When it was hot, the water lay still and reflected the clouds; when it rained, its skin came alive with dilating rings of energy.
At the bottom of the marsh's black water, hidden from view, lay two bodies, one with a crack in its skull and the other with a shattered chest.
Over time, the seasons cut through the ...
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