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All True Not a Lie in It
by Alix Hawley


Overview -

The story of pioneer Daniel Boone's life, told in his voice--a tall tale like no other, startling, funny, poignant, romantic and brawling--set during the American Revolutionary War

Here is Daniel Boone as you've never seen him: debut novelist Alix Hawley presents Boone's life, from his childhood in a Quaker colony, through two stints captured by Indians as he attempted to settle Kentucky, the death of a son at the hands of the same Indians and the rescue of a daughter.  Read more...


 
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More About All True Not a Lie in It by Alix Hawley
 
 
 
Overview

The story of pioneer Daniel Boone's life, told in his voice--a tall tale like no other, startling, funny, poignant, romantic and brawling--set during the American Revolutionary War

Here is Daniel Boone as you've never seen him: debut novelist Alix Hawley presents Boone's life, from his childhood in a Quaker colony, through two stints captured by Indians as he attempted to settle Kentucky, the death of a son at the hands of the same Indians and the rescue of a daughter. The prose rivals Hilary Mantel's and Peter Carey's, conveying that sense of being inside the head of a storied historical figure about which much nonsense is spoken while also feeling completely contemporary.

Boone was a fabulous hunter and explorer, and a "white Indian," perhaps happiest when he found a place as the captive, adopted son of a chief who was trying to prevent the white settlement of Kentucky. Hawley takes us intimately into the life-and-death survival of people pushing away from security and into Indian lands, despite sense and treaties, just before and into the War of Independence.

The love story between Boone and his wife, Rebecca, is rich and tangled, but mostly it's Boone who fascinates, pushing into places where he imagines he can create a new "clean" world, only to find death and trouble and complication. He is a fabulous character, unrivaled in North American literature, and a prime candidate for the tall tale. The storytelling is taut and expert, the descriptions rich and powerful, the prose full of feeling, but Boone is what drives this outstanding debut.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062470096
  • ISBN-10: 0062470094
  • Publisher: Ecco Press
  • Publish Date: August 2016
  • Page Count: 384
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Biographical
Books > Fiction > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-07-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

This historical fiction debut is a quiet, sweeping story about the life of mythic frontiersman Daniel Boone. Told entirely from the perspective of Boone himself, the book meanders through his early childhood, sharing formative moments such as his joy for the first gun he owned and his brother Isaiah teaching him to hunt, and his family's exile from their religious community in Exeter, N.H. From there, the reader follows Boone on his peripatetic adventures as he pushes westward, searching for paradise. Though Boone does marry and start a family, he can't be tied down and has a constant itch to carry on his search for heaven on earth. Adventure is both wondrous and tragic for Boone, who sees his first herd of buffalo and traverses the beautiful, untouched land of Kentucky but also has multiple run-ins with the Shawnee and grieves the deaths of loved ones. The narrative is carried by the strong, poetic voice, which at times is as hard to pin down as the man himself. Boone's ghosts—of both people and places—follow and haunt him despite his attempts to shake them off through almost constant exploration into the unknown. Hawley's marvelous book shines light on a figure that has become more legend than man, sharing an intimate and raw portrayal of Boone that rings true. Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency. (Aug.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Slipping into the moccasins of an 18th-century American pioneer

The whole idea behind my novel, All True Not a Lie in It, was a gamble. Once I was hit with the memory of an old National Geographic article about Daniel Boone, I couldn’t stop thinking about him and his story. I was hooked, utterly. But would other people want to read about a long-dead American frontiersman? (And, hang on, would they even know who he was?)

It took a lot of writing and rewriting. And one of the books that influenced me, perhaps surprisingly, was Lolita, whip-smart and shocking. It turns me into a gawper, a gasper—not so much for its horrors as for its own wild gamble. What writer can pull off the tale of an aging, predatory child molester without scattering readers like pigeons at a gunshot?

Nabokov can. His Humbert Humbert is one of literature’s most ghastly and sorry creations, but we find ourselves listening to him, following him across America, even as we recoil from his desires. Loathsome as he is, I will argue for this book every time. So why does Nabokov win? Why do we go along with Humbert into the dark? 

We have Nabokov’s electric prose, of course. But we also have the character’s own words, his own voice: “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”

It’s the key. The gamble only succeeds because of it. If we’d had, instead, “His sin, his soul,” the book’s pull would have frayed like old rope. Well, I suppose I have a gambler’s heart, too. I rolled the dice and stepped into the first-person shoes, which I’d always found pinching. I fought it, writing draft after draft in other voices, until I caved. Fine. I, Daniel Boone. Double or nothing.

I walked around until the shoes fit. His voice is not my voice. He’s a rough, charismatic leader and a famous hunter; I’m female, fairly quiet, Canadian and vegetarian. But first person was the only voice for this book. Once I could hear it in my mind, I couldn’t shake it. I hope readers will follow me into Daniel’s shoes—and head—as he moves through the wilderness in search of perfection, a quest that leads to his daughter’s kidnap and his son’s murder. The aftermath is denial, guilt and hard suffering.

My story elides chronology in places, making guesses and filling in gaps for the sake of narrative. But I didn’t need an unreliable narrator—the story had plenty going on already—so I looked at complicated speakers, like Humbert, and how they tell us their stories.

And we want books to create a reality. To reanimate the 1700s, I had to plough up forests of detail and try to use what Daniel and his family would have known in a natural way: the Quaker meeting house of his childhood; the Appalachian wilderness he explored; the homes he and his wife, Rebecca, built; and the Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee and Black lives that intersected with his. I read several biographies, including Lyman Draper’s The Life of Daniel Boone, a 19th-century rescue of Boone oral history and manuscripts, trying to expose the flavor of 18th-century life. 

But the books that gave me what I most needed were fiction, Peter Carey’s and Hilary Mantel’s. Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang snares Ned Kelly’s wild mind and feeds it to us in pieces, letters and articles. Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, while in third person, give a similar feeling of an access-all-areas pass to someone’s brain. What works in these books is the uncanny sense that we’re listening to the characters while at the same time experiencing what it’s like to be them. We’re inside and outside. For me, this was the trick: We had to be able to see Daniel from both sides at once.

My Daniel Boone is talking to his dead, trying to turn himself inside out and see what he has done, and who he has become. This book is about what is lost, and what remains.

Canadian writer Alix Hawley studied English at Oxford University and now teaches at Okanagan College in British Columbia. All True Not a Lie in It, her debut novel, was longlisted for the Giller Prize. She is currently working on a sequel.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews