Posted Monday, March 27th, 2006
“Desert Rain” – A powerful new book
In Wallace Dorian’s intriguing first novella, “Desert Rain,” he takes his heroine Cynthia Ryan into a heart of darkness. But unlike Joseph Conrad’s famous classic, Cynthia’s journey takes her into America’s southwest while making a film of the Kachina cult and the Hopi people, their lore and their prophecies.
“Desert Rain” tackles the age-old dilemma of death, loss, redemption and sacrifice in innovative ways. Using the formula of the journey, Mr. Dorian brings a kind of epic or mythic scope to this contemporary western steeped in Americana while at the same time, sharing with us a haunting, somewhat apocalyptic vision of the future that ends on an optimistic note. He does this through the interesting character of Mary, a half-Hopi coming-of-age eighteen-year old who has not seen her father in nine years.
The story, while told through the weary eyes of Cynthia, an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker making a comeback after the tragic suicide death of her teenage son, Steven, is also told in part through Mary’s eyes as one who not only represents her culture, but a generation that also seeks it’s own self-identity in a world that has become more technologically complicated and fraught with anxiety and an uncertain future.
In the midst of all this comes Jack Carlson, a mysterious rodeo cowboy drifter who is coming to meet his estranged daughter, Mary. It is through Jack, a kind of guardian angel if you will, who seems to appear from nowhere and whom Cynthia meets that she comes to grips with the demons that haunt her as she tries to fulfill her destiny which in the end takes her very life.
This ending forms the haunting climax of ‘Desert Rain” but one that uplifts the reader with the idea of re-birth or reincarnation and hope for the future on a collective level.
The story, a human drama to be sure, tells the plight of womanhood and the ironic coincidences in our lives that intersect on the road of life. In that sense, “Desert Rain’ turns out to be a “road story” disguised as a fable, or an ode to all our lives that is at once temporary but not trivial.
Interwoven within the novella itself is a very fine thread that also takes in the ancient lore of the mystical Hopi Indians and the spirituality of the Kachina cult. While not a story about the Hopi per se, the metaphor of the plight of the Native Americans cannot be ignored.
“Desert Rain” is a very brisk read that’s short and sweet. It is currently in ebook format.
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