Archive for February 2017

Laurel Falls by Henry Mitchell: book review

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun, – a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.‎”


– John Muir


If you’ve begun this review I’m assuming that, like me, you’re already in the Laurel and and the Laurel is in you. The third installment in The Benjamin Drum Trilogy couldn’t find it’s way into my greedy little hands quick enough. If you’ve read my reviews of either The Summer Boy or Between Times then you’re aware of my fondness for this Appalachian epic and it’s writer. I have resolved to, rather than ramble on with felicitations, let my words be few. Let’s let Laurel Falls speak for itself:


Eventually the day began to work into him and he let go of thoughts and puzzles and simply drank in the golden light, the piney air, the songthrong of
innumerable birds. He walked, shedding haste and urgency as he went, feeling the weight of the mountain moving up through his soles and ankles with each step, through calf and knee and thigh, through belly and chest and shoulder, until finally he knew himself a mobile attenuation of the constant presentiality of
the mountain. He stopped and stared long and often into the lovely and loving
faces of flowers, had leisurely and unwordful conversations with a bear, and two
wolves and a large cat he met along the way. All of them recognized him as
kindred soul, like them manifest of the soulfulness of the mountain they
traversed, strangers before their meeting moment, and forever after aware of
their eternal familiatude. The same mountain breathed in them all, the same sun
warming and lighting them all. The same waters quenched their common thirst, and if need be, the body of any one might nourish the life of another. One Soul
imagined them all. One Life sustained the becoming of every one. Crossing a
creek on stones slippery with drenched mosses, Talks To Trees heard the guttural gratings of Raven perched in a chestnut high above. He looked up at his face reflected in the corvidaes dark orbs, through Raven’s eyes saw himself tiny and foreshortened among the grounded leaves below. “I know you,” said Raven in his unspeakable tongue. “We are brothers bone and blood. ” Talks To Trees nodded and waved before walking on. “Yes, we are,” he said aloud to Raven, to the tree, to the path and the flowers and the light and the air and the water, to Owl wherever he might not be listening, to the boy and man pursued across times and worlds, “We are the same.” Once across the little stream, Talks To Trees strode away. He fancied he heard Li singing in the distance, but knew it to be earthsong, the music of the day. Before he took many steps, Raven called after him, “Brother two-legged, you are the Namer. What will you call this place of our sacred meeting?” Talks To Trees halted, turned, spread his arms wide and smiled as the word came to him across water and worlds and time. “Abalahci.” He laughed. “The Other Side.”


Did you read that?!


Did you?


If any passage has ever radiated the spirit of John Muir, this is it…and this is one small excerpt from a brilliant novel replete with beauty. Laurel Falls is the third book in the series…presumably a trilogy. If it ends here, it ends in resplendent glory…


Please don’t let it end here.