This is a story of the southern California chaparral where it edges into the Mohave Desert, a place of ripping Santa Ana winds and unpredicted earthquakes; it is the story of a people there in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a few Jews among the first farmers, who had cut out a chunk of it and raised roses with a passion equal to the remembrance of their diaspora. They could speak fluent Spanish, Hebrew, Russian; work complicated equipment; and outwardly seem set for the worst trouble. It is also about the Oklahoma raised Kiowa named Tom Green, the farmer’s foreman; his visions, dreams, and the voices that speak through him. But especially it is about the women: the farmer’s wife who bears the blood her Aztec ancestors carried into the earliest California settlements; and Tom Green’s Kiowa grandmothers; and Anna, a beautiful Hollywood actress. Against the ominous shadows of B-52 bomber practice runs, the invisible rain from nearby Nevada atomic bomb tests, the historic destruction of the ancient redwoods, and the banishment of the grizzly bear, How the Night is Divided captures life at the western edge.
About David Matlin
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Published May 1, 1993
Literature & Fiction.