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Book Title: Trask|
The author of the book: Don Berry
Edition: Oregon State University Press
Date of issue: May 1st 2004
ISBN 13: 9780870710230
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.10 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.3
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published in 1960 when don berry was 27, trask is often mentioned in the same breath as ken kesey's sometimes a great notion as the finest oregon novel ever written. set along the northern oregon coast range in the late 1840's, trask was inspired by the life of settler, mountain man & fur trapper elbridge trask (for whom both a river and a mountain are named here in the beaver state). compelling and adventurous, the story follows the title character as he tries to become the first white man to settle in tillamook bay. along the arduous journey, he and his guide (a friendly clatsop indian & spiritual leader named charley kehwa) must endure tragedy, torrential weather, rugged climate, and the seemingly bellicose killamook indians. trask is more than mere historical fiction, however, it is an insightful and exceptionally well crafted novel that captures the great uncertainty and promise the settlers undoubtedly knew all too well. berry's portrayal of the indians is compassionate and well-rounded, far from the shallow caricatures that often plague the genre. tragically, neither trask nor berry ever achieved the acclaim they so obviously deserved.
trask is the first of a trilogy of novels that include moontrap and to build a ship, referred to simply as "the trask novels." these works were long out of print until rescued by oregon state university press and republished in 2004. don berry, while attending reed college in portland as a young man, shared a house (and an affinity for eastern mysticism) with gary snyder and befriended philip whalen.
"you whites, you are always wishing to fight the world, and you ask your gods for help to do this thing, which they never give. you are always trying to overcome something, and you do not see that you fight nothing but your own minds. the world does not wish to fight you, it does not wish to be friends with you, either. the world wishes nothing at all; only men wish, and they make up their dreams and tell themselves they are talking about the world, when they are talking about the ground fog that lies on their minds."
a black bird of guilt hovers over the death of a man, waiting to perch where it may find room in the minds that remain. it is an easy thing to be deceived by the happenings of the world into believing you are responsible for them. it is part of a man's great conceit that he can believe himself responsible for the universe and its actions. it is a part of his conceit that he can believe himself guilty of the death of every other man, and take the guilt of the world on himself.
but there is no guilt to be taken. it is not necessary that the responsibility be assigned. it is not the concern of those who remain, but a thing between the world and the one who is dead. that which was, is not. it is a simple thing.
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