Westover, Tim. "Auraria: A Novel." QW Publishers, July 2012.
Let me preface the actual review with this thought…Tim Westover can WRITE! The language and phrasing here is just lovely, the descriptiveness brings to life a wonderful and charming world, one in which the reader, like James Holtzclaw, is completely and almost unwittingly seduced by until he (or she) realizes that s/he is as much a part of Auraria as the singing tree or the mist fish. The novel is oddly reminiscent of an Appalachian “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” a magical and isolated world coupled with unique and fascinating characters, a world which moves at its own pace and which cannot be hurried or tamed despite the best efforts of man or technology. It is character, not plot, which drives Auraria, a delightful cast of myths and topsy-turvy stereotypes who never quite react or behave as one might expect. The novel’s protagonist, city-slicker James Holtzclaw, presents at first as a predictable middle management flunky, one who counts beans and follows orders, yet it is through Holtzclaw’s eyes that the wonders and mysteries of Auraria unfold until both the reader and the erstwhile Holtzclaw realize that perhaps what one thinks one wants is in fact no such thing and happiness may be found not in excess or success but in finding a place to belong and to tend. Capturing with deft skill the constant tensions between the old and the new, between tradition and progress, and between Appalachia and the outside world, Westover’s novel is a stunning example of best of the Appalachian literary tradition.
Advance reading copy received through Netgalley.