Saturday, February 9, 2019
Book Review: 'The Mountain's Morning Song' by William Graney
“I’d like to know how people feel about the timeline.”
California author William Graney’s novels include LIMBO, MOUNTAINTOP USA, MIRRORS IN THE DARK, SAVING GRACE, MOUNTAIN TIME AND THE LEGEND OF LA SOCIETE DE LA FRONTIERE OUVERTE, THE WAYS OF AUTUMN and now his newest novel THE MOUNTAIN’S MORNING SONG. His genre: magical realism/science fiction and political concepts.
The novel spans the time frame from 2052 to 2076 but William gives entry into the story with a Prologue set in 2020 set in Independence, California: ‘When the Tanaka family entered the visitor center at the Manzanar National Historic Site, Robbie’s thoughts suddenly began twisting into a chaotic swirl. Their presence at the internment camp was a planned family visit in conjunction with a camping trip to Sequoia National Park. The expectation was that the side-trip to Manzanar would be interesting, but Robbie wasn’t prepared for the waves of ancient, deeply-rooted memories. As his wife Michelle, and their sons Jeff and Kenji, wandered around the visitor center looking at the exhibits, his gaze was fixed upon the barracks where his parents had been held as prisoners. This detour to the internment camp was the main reason the Tanakas had chosen to plan a road trip to the Eastern Sierras from their home in the town of Mountaintop. Robbie didn’t know a lot about the time his parents had spent in the camp because he had never asked them about it. His mom and dad both passed away when he was a young man, before he had reached a point in his life where family history was important to him. While he was growing up, his parents told him they had been held at Manzanar during the war, but they never elaborated on it. The ghosts from the past seemed to be in possession of Robbie’s memories as he visualized younger versions of his parents than he had known living in those barracks. His thoughts coming in centered on the idea that it would be an important history lesson for his sons, and a way for them to learn more about their grandparents, whom they had never met. The actual experience was becoming deeply personal and the fact that his parents had been treated in such a way by a government they supported, in a country they loved, was creating a disturbing blend of anger, disassociation, and sorrow. At fourteen years old, Jeff had enough maturity to read his way through the exhibits and stay interested while watching the film Remembering Manzanar. His brother Kenji, who was eleven years old, was too young to fully appreciate the significance of what he was seeing.…’
With this painful reminder of our country’s response to WW II and the Japanese interment camps, William proceeds to offer an alternative way to view our government: ‘In the year 2052, governing entities throughout the United States are dominated by the far right Christian Law Party as the president begins to implement a gradual plan for the establishment of one-party rule. For those who are committed to democracy, the only hope on the horizon comes from Angie Branson, the presidential nominee for the obscure Science Party. In the small, remote town of Mountaintop, a secret society has been meeting and discussing the miraculous nature of their origins for thirty-seven years. Based on a divine message, they believe an apocalypse is imminent, but it will not occur until the next century. Realizing they have to share their knowledge with future generations, they are firm in their conviction, but also relieved that the exodus isn’t expected in their lifetimes. Their mission is altered when the rising tide of hate and violence accelerates the projected arrival of the prophesied events. The members of La Société de la Frontière Ouverte are instructed to prepare for departure from the earthly realm through a crystal portal in a nearby cave. The only hope for restoring the original timeline is for the Science Party candidate to pull off an election day miracle and lead the country toward an enlightened future.‘
Novels of this imaginative stature and sensitivity are too rare, but William Graney has mastered this blend of magical fantasy and history and political thinking and the result is a novel worthy of the attention of a very wide readership.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.