The River: A Novel
The sun sets in the cold without friends
Without reproaches after all it has done for us
It goes down believing in nothing
When it has gone I hear the stream running after it
It has brought its flute it is a long way.
– W. S. Merwin, “Dusk in Winter”
Peter Heller’s fourth novel starts with smoke.
From the first pages we are introduced to each of the elements which will dog the two friends — Wynn and Jack — as they canoe in the Canadian wilderness: a forest fire, two drunks on land, and a pair of arguing voices in the fog. The river itself seems no problem to them, as they feel prepared for that.