Percival Everett's 'Wounded': Winter in Wyoming

Book critic Alan Cheuse reviews Wounded by Percival Everett. The novel is set in Wyoming on the verge of winter.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Wyoming on the verge of winter is the setting for Percival Everett's new novel. It's called "Wounded," and Alan Cheuse has a review.

ALAN CHEUSE reporting:

For a sparsely populated region, Percival Everett's Wyoming has a fairly large cast of characters: a horse trainer named John Hunt and his Uncle Gus, the only black citizens of the region; Wallace Castlebury, Hunt's temporary ranch hand; local Sheriff Bucky Edmunds(ph); and rangy and attractive Morgan, a neighbor with whom Hunt's involved in a deep flirtation.

As snow begins to fall, a young gay man turns up dead, the victim, it seems, of a hate crime. And from this material, Everett creates an easy-flowing narrative that takes on, with real authority, the question of Hunt's affection for Morgan, his increasing disaffection for small-town bigotry and his desire to wrestle some sense from the wild nature of human life.

Everett's novel-making skills remain steady. Training horses is one thing; managing a plot is another. And this plot pits friends against friends, fathers against sons and puts the question of the very nature of real love at the heart of things. It requires strength of vision not to veer toward melodrama on the one side or righteous obscurity on the other. I wish the book hadn't ended as abruptly as it did, but maybe that's a tribute to Everett's narrative skills. I just plain wanted more story.

SIEGEL: The book is "Wounded" by Percival Everett. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

MICHELE NORRIS (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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