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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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Sacred spot in desert?

Vacation far from restful

By Dan Dervin

For The Free Lance-Star

THIS PROVOCATIVE title for a more-than-provocative novel stems from Balzac’s sense of the desert as “God without men.”

Kunzru’s Mojave Desert is teeming with people without God.  Its key landmark is a rock formation called the Pinnacles, roughly resembling three fingers.  For a pioneer missionary, it signified the Trinity.  For an Indian tribe, it was sacred ground. Later, it was the preferred landing site for spacemen and a mecca for New Age devotees on a mission to save the planet.

These groups have their own actors and story lines, but “Gods Without Men” focuses on an American couple: Jaz, from a Sikh immigrant family, and Lisa, from a Jewish family.

They are on holiday to recover from the stresses brought on when their autistic son Raz suddenly vanishes from the vicinity.  Their relationship,  fraught  with all the cultural clashes they bring plus the burden of losing a child unable to relate, keeps readers riveted.

Readers can feel relief and admiration without necessarily finding it a fun trip.

Dan Dervin  is a freelance writer in Fredericksburg.

Gods Without Men

By Hari Kunzru

(Knopf, $26.95, 382 pp.)


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