Price: U.S. $13.95
Tom La Farge
Green Integer Series No.: 46
ISBN: 1-931243-06-9, Pages: 338
Tom La Farge's new novel revisits the animal world he created in his acclaimed The Crimson Bears and A Hundred Doors. The protagonist, Zuntig the Swamp Ape, makes a bid for dominance in her tribe but fails. Facing destruction, she discovers that she can change her shape and restart her story as another sort of animal. As she shifts, every new body imposes its own desires and sends Zuntig hunting for the habitat where it will be at home. As her search changes, so does her story. She becomes a herring and swims upriver to breed against a stream of consciousness. She becomes a lemming, finds mates and propagates in a season of courtship Jane Austen might have described. Her encounter as an auk with Ocean is told in swelling Shelleyan blank verse, and her plunge into the Ice Matrix mimics Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" as revised by Emily Dickinson, William Blake, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But in each new shape she retains the memory of her first home and story, built into her physical being and fighting her adaptation to new environments. The sunstruck hills of the Biljub Desert, the flow of the river Flood, the snow-tunnels of Hyver, the empty ocean's dreaming, even the fabulous Pig Opera of Bargeton: none of these is a niche where Zuntig can adapt until she resolves her unfinished business in the Swamp. The result is a fantasy that- as a reviewer in American Book Review noted of The Crimson Bears - will "be the source of a new Nile," akin to the great fantasy writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Tom La Farge is a teacher in New York City. His collection of tales, Terror of Earth, won the 1996 America Award for the best work of American fiction.