The rifles

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Viking, Feb 24, 1994 - Fiction - 411 pages
3 Reviews
The Rifles establishes more firmly than ever before that William Vollmann is, in the words of the The Washington Post, "the most prodigiously talented and historically important American novelist under thirty-five". This work, the sixth in Vollmann's projected seven-novel cycle examining the clash of native Americans and their European colonizers, is at once a gripping tale of adventure, a contemporary love story, and a chronicle of the ongoing destruction of Inuit lifeways. It is one hundred and fifty years ago. Our continent has been mapped east, west, and south, but the white explorers who hope to discover the Northwest Passage have found only ice and death. Sir John Franklin - cheerful, determined, and dangerously rigid - sets out to complete the Passage with hundreds of men and supplies for three years. This is the third Arctic expedition he has commanded; on both of the others he has defied the warnings of the Inuit and Indians he's encountered along the way. This time he's not coming back. By 1990, Franklin and his mapmakers have conquered. In the prefabricated towns of the Canadian North, teenagers are sniffing gasoline, and the Inuit families who were forcibly relocated by the government in the 1950s are starving and have lost their sense of purpose. Reepah, a young Inuk woman in hopeless circumstances, is seduced and left pregnant by a white man who, terrified by his own self, prepares to assume Franklin's fate. Written with the same stylistic daring and gritty realism which has characterized all of his work, The Rifles weaves together these stories form the past and the present with Vollmann's own travels. Most dramatic of all is his eerie account of a midwinter solo trip tothe North Magnetic Pole, which he put himself through at considerable personal risk in order to relive, through imagination, the last days of the Franklin expedition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

Another damned good book by Vollmann. His descriptions both of the tattered Inuit society and of the Franklin expedition are bone-chilling. Felt shivers throughout. Read full review

THE RIFLES: Vol. VI of Seven Dreams

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Volume Six of Vollmann's vast, timeless epic Seven Dreams, this third novel (after Fathers and Crows, 1992) in the series takes up as its primary theme the lost 1845 expedition of Sir John Franklin to ... Read full review


The Rifles
Our Land endpapers
The First Expedition 1818 CaPl D Buchan commanding

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About the author (1994)

Journalist and novelist William T. Vollmann was born in 1959 and educated at Cornell University. He worked as a comptuer programmer before becoming a journalist and covering Bosnia, Sarajevo and Afghanistan. He has written extensively since 1987, when his first book, You Bright and Risen Angels, was published. The Atlas (1996) won the PEN Center USA West Award for the best novel by a writer living west of the Mississippi. His newest work of Non-Fiction is entitled, Imperial.