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164 Western American Literature “The West,” Lucas writes, “the word itself had an expansive quality; it could keep going as long as you could.” Morgana goes a long way, gradu­ ally breaking from the present with an hallucinatory sequence in the nearby wilderness. Guided by Teddy Bluebird, last of the Sinkyone Indians, she tramps the physical contours of the development site while simultaneously exploring the spiritual recesses of her mind. Morgana undergoes a ritual initiation, a communion with land and self that transforms her completely. From the impatient career woman caught in a traffic jam when her story opens, she changes to a creature who quietly measures the earth’s time “by counting the number of daybreaks when the dead eyes and pink skulls and stooped black wings waited above her in the trees.” From the self-sufficient manipulator of men and machines, she becomes as one with the landscape. “Only when she had walked the length of the tree and stood beside the cut itself, where she could see the narrow ring of cambium oozing, the rust-red heartwood weeping its rich sap onto the ground, was it clear that the tree was doomed. And of all the living things here she was the only one who understood that.” Her mythic journey separates her from her fellows. Morgana’s Fault might well be called a contemporary female’s Trask. Like Berry’s book, Lukas’s moves its main character from the real to the surreal in a soul-shattering wilderness experience. Once Morgana descends into the Mattole Ravine she finds herself in a twilight zone very like Trask’s — indeed, her Indian mentor dies violently too, and she is left alone to face her fate. Where her story differs, though, is in its irresolution. Unlike Trask, Morgana’s Fault never returns to solid ground. Morgana remains buffeted in the winds between two worlds, her isolation unbridged and her destiny uncertain. Thus her initiation is incomplete, suspended by an inconclusive separation of the mythic and the real. Yet the novel is effective. Sharply conceived and well-written, it strik­ ingly demonstrates how a male myth can be transposed into a female state­ ment, how a woman can be initiated into personhood. And if that statement is unresolved — perhaps that is Lukas’s point. In spite of its loose ends, .Morgana’s Fault is nonetheless a disquieting and provocative exploration of a new western frontier, the psychological landscape of a modern woman. ANN RONALD, University of Nevada/Reno Expeditions to Nowhere. By Paddy Sherman. (Seattle, WA: The Moun­ taineers, 1981. 240 pages, $14.95.) Vancouver writer and newspaper publisher Paddy Sherman has auth­ ored two books on the sport of mountaineering. His first effort, Cloud Walkers (1965), described the earliest generation of North American moun­ tain climbers and their pioneering achievements on a half dozen peaks in Reviews 165 western Canada and Alaska; it is considered something of a classic in the field of climbing literature and established Sherman’s reputation as a skillful storyteller. His most recent book, Expeditions to Nowhere, takes a leap into the modern era of alpinism as viewed through the author’s personal experi­ ences on some of the world’s highest mountains. Together with a group of close friends, all middle-aged and middle class, Sherman jets off every year or two on a self-created adventure somewhere in the world, challenging such lofty summits as Mounts Kenya, Aconcagua, McKinley and Huascaran. But despite their remoteness, these are no longer lonely mountains. Thanks to the jet age and adventure tourism, hundreds of other climbers seek out the same renowned mountains every year. The sum­ mit victory is often won by waiting in line for parties to pay their visit to the mountain-top or suffering in crowded huts where unacclimatized fellow travellers spend sleepless nights vomiting on the floor. Expeditions to Nowhere belies much of the romance of modern moun­ taineering. Technology has reduced great adventure to the pedestrian, a fact well illustrated by Sherman’s story of a French climber who recently attained the summit of Mount Everest, ripped off his oxygen mask, pulled out his radio-telephone and direct-dialed his home in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 164-165
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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