Thursday, May 29, 2008
Who will buy the book
Alas, Poor Country is a tale of murder, greed and gross ambition set against the backdrop of what has come to be called the “uranium boom” in the 1950s-1960s in the Four Corners region of the U.S. By setting such a story within this fascinating and little known historical moment, the book would appeal to a broad and diverse readership.
As the reader at the University of Nevada Press wrote of Alas, Poor Country, “Readers would include people interested in the American Southwest and the book could have a wider audience, people drawn to stories that address the eternal issues of human tragedy, folly and avarice.”
The book would resonate with a range of readers, including:
Those interested in a good story
As a novel about ambition and unbridled avarice, Alas, Poor Country would appeal to readers who enjoy taut, well-plotted stories full of secrets, alliances made and betrayed, and swift, surprise changes in direction.
As the reader for the University of Nevada Press wrote of Alas, Poor Country, “Sentence by sentence, the book is very well written. The author writes good, pithy, descriptions and has a flare for spare, effective dialogue. He can also move his plot along handily with pleasing and effective twists, turns, reversals and rhythmic crescendos of tension and release.”
Similar books: Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone, Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven and Good Faith by Jane Smiley
Those interested in history
In the 1940s the U.S. government initiated a public uranium ore buying campaign to fuel its weapons development program. The move triggered a mad rush to the Colorado Plateau, home of some of the richest deposits outside the Congo. By the late-50s the boom had gone bust, but not after helping change the face of the region and the balance of power in the world.
As the University of Nevada Press reader wrote, “Alas, Poor Country could be an important contribution in that it covers the uranium boom and would contribute to the regional and national memory of the early excesses of the atomic age. … The uranium mining boom in the west has long begged for literary coverage and I am very pleased to see this effort in that direction.”
Given the paucity of books on the subject, Alas, Poor Country could also be of considerable use and interest to schools for classes on U.S. and/or regional history, especially in the West.
Similar books: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, Killing Mister Watson by Peter Matthiessen and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Those interested in the American West
Since the arrival of the new nation’s first settlers to the Eastern Seaboard, the American West has occupied a unique place in our country’s history and literature. It became a tool through which to create and view the mystique of the nation’s vast frontier and its evolving myth.
Alas, Poor Country inhabits a tradition of American novels in which these themes of frontier, individualism, ambition and courage are explored and reinterpreted in an attempt to capture, understand and come to terms with our place within an elusive national identity.
Similar books: Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy
Those interested in character
The book is driven by the stories of its five principal characters: Will Bowen, a single-minded geologist with too much at stake; Cora McAfree, an elderly and unscrupulous miner’s widow; Eldon Hopper, the messianic leader of a fundamentalist Mormon enclave; Winton Weams, a gullible but ambitious senator’s son; and Owen Dobcek, a veteran underground miner caught up in history.
By relating their experiences in first person, the characters are permitted to tell their own stories, treating the reader to a range of different perspectives and dialects. In doing so each achieves a unique intimacy with the reader that enriches the larger narrative and invests the book with its real heart and meaning.
Similar books: Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner