by Terry Persun
Category: Fiction / General
200 pages; ISBN: 1891954679
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
Llewellyn "Lew" Smith is a hot-shot New York advertising executive. He is also obnoxious, controlling, manipulative and willing to walk over anyone to get what he wants. In short, he is a thoroughly dislikable person, the sort of person who deserves to die in the early part of the novel.
One day, his boss sends him to New Mexico to do some pro bono advertising work for a group of Navajo indians. When he arrives, a couple of other Native Americans, who have no liking for white men, put him in their truck and head for the mountains. Lew quickly realizes that something is wrong; the thought of being murdered and dumped somewhere desolate crosses his mind more than once. They end up in a place that isn't just in the middle of Nowhere, it's many miles from Nowhere. To make a long story short, Lew is forced to undergo a Native American vision quest.
The thought of walking back to civilization is out of the question, so Lew is stuck. He spends the next several days thinking about his life, and doing battle with various personal demons. There are a few periods of altered consciousness. Slowly, Lew begins o realize what a mean, inconsiderate person he has become and doesn't like what he sees. When he ends the quest, and is returned to civilization by the same people who put him there, he is immediately arrested on a murder charge.
Another Native American was found dead in the vicinity of Lew's vision quest. Maybe Lew killed him during one of his periods of altered consciousness. Gary, a lawyer and one of the few people who can tolerate Lew's moods, gets Lew cleared. Lew doesn't know that Gary knows that Gary's wife, Lynne, has cheated on him a number of times, including with Lew.
When Lew tries to show the people he knows that he has changed, he is met with universal scorn and disbelief. It gets worse when he tries to express his sincere sympathy for Gary's suicide. Among those who don't believe Lew are his ex-wife and young son, who he has disappointed many times in the past. Slowly, very slowly, attitudes toward Lew begin to change. He stays in the Southwest, with a couple of advertising clients of his own, but focusing only on honorable clients. He gets involved in teaching Native American spirituality to others.
This is well worth reading. Not only is it a very good Native American story, it also shows how even the most incorrigible person can change. Two thumbs up.