I'm saddened to see far too many people pigeon-hole Howard Frank Mosher as a 'writer of regional interest' -- maybe only those who live along the Mississippi should read Mark Twain, then. True, Mosher's books all take place in Vermont -- but these are such well-written, absorbing stories, the characters so unforgettable, that any one who appreciates fine literature can thoroughly enjoy them.
This volume collects 6 of Mosher's short stories along with the title novella -- the latter being possibly his most well-known work, having been made into an exceptional film with the amazingly-talented Rip Torn in the role of a lifetime as Noel Lord, Mosher's cantankerous ex-lumberjack. Lord is mentioned in some of the other stories, as well as in some of Mosher's novels -- and other characters make appearances in more than one work as well.
Set in 1927 Vermont, 'Where the rivers flow north' takes the familiar theme of the rugged individualist going up against the evil, unfeeling corporation, and breathes new life into it. Mosher's flowing style, combined with his incredible ability to bring to the printed page all the nuances of his characters' personalities -- warts and all -- give this and all of his works the finishing touches that only a fine craftsman can give. Noel Lord's Native American housekeeper/wife, Bangor, is one of the most memorable characters you'll ever run across. She and Lord have a classic yin-yang relationship that, most likely, neither one would acknowledge. A reader from any part of the nation can get inside these people, can feel and experience everything that happens to them -- and any time we can do that, we can learn and we can grow.
The characters in all of the stories here are, as in all of Mosher's works, vividly drawn -- Alabama Jones, the innocent-but-worldly aspiring carnival performer -- Burl, an old woman lying in a nursing home waiting to die, looking back at her life with a combination of bitterness and longing -- Eban and Walter, brothers, neighbors, at odds in their life over things large and small, but brothers -- a man dying, clinging to life through a kept peacock -- a boy passes through a coming-of-age event, a flood, which changes forever the way he views both his brother and his father -- another man, Henry Coville, makes some painful recollections and decisions as he feels the end of his life approach. Mosher paints them all with the deft brush strokes of an artist who intimately knows his subjects and the landscape in which their lives are played out.
Howard Frank Mosher is an immensely talented, always entertaining writer -- he deserves to be widely read, and what a treat is awaiting those who read him for the first time...!