Set in 1916, Far Bright Star follows Napoleon Childs, an aging cavalryman, as he leads an expedition of inexperienced soldiers into the mountains of Mexico to hunt down Pancho Villa and bring him to justice. Though he is seasoned at such missions, things go terribly wrong and the patrol is brutally attacked. After witnessing the demise of his troops, Napoleon is left by his captors to die in the desert.
Through him we enter the conflicted mind of a warrior as he tries to survive against all odds, as he seeks to make sense of a lifetime of senseless wars and to reckon with the reasons a man would choose a life on the battlefield. Olmstead, an award-winning writer, uses his precise, descriptive prose to explore the endurance and fate of the last horse soldiers. The result is a tightly wound novel that is as moving as it is terrifying.
Although Far Bright Star has become one of my favorite books, it will not appeal to all readers. First, the author's writing style may annoy as many as it attracts, as it's so atypical of most current prose; some may consider it genius while others will think it overly affected. More importantly, the book contains scenes of intense brutality. I rarely have any difficulty reading about people inflicting harm on others; in Far Bright Star, though, some fairly horrific events are depicted so graphically that I found them truly disturbing, with long-lasting afterimages. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
In this, his seventh book, Olmstead writes with a gritty style as sparse as the landscape itself...Olmstead's knife-edge paring of words...makes "Far Bright Star" such a fine work of fiction.
... a sparse, poetic style that is appropriate for the book's bleak setting and subject matter.
This relatively short novel packs a potent emotional wallop.
Starred Review. Olmstead's brilliantly expressive, condensed tale of resilience and dusty determination flows with the kind of literary cadence few writers have mastered.
Starred Review. The spectacle Olmstead presents is not a pretty one ... But the beauty and power of his prose will keep most readers from looking away. Brutal, tender and magnificent.
In Far Bright Star, Cavalryman Napoleon Childs is a member of an expedition sent to the Mexican border to apprehend bandit Pancho Villa.
Many details of Villa's life are unknown or in dispute. Scholars believe he was born José Doroteo Arango Arambula in 1877 (some sources indicate 1878 or 1879) in San Juan del Rio, Durango, Mexico. He was the son of an impoverished sharecropper who died when Villa was fifteen. Legend has it that at the age of sixteen Villa returned from a day in the fields to find the wealthy hacienda owner attempting to rape his twelve-year-old sister. Villa shot the man and fled to the hills where he banded with other outlaws during the years that followed, eventually becoming their leader.
By the time he was 20, he'd moved northward to Chihuahua, where he worked on and off as a miner. His real occupations, however, seemed to have been robbery and cattle theft. His reputation grew over the next decade. He preyed only on the...
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YA author Ned Vizzini dies aged 32(Dec 20 2013) Ned Vizzini, the author of YA favorites It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Be More Chill, died Thursday in New York City. According to the Los Angeles Times,...