Welch’s Winter in the Blood

Winter in the Blood
James Welch

Brutal, haunting and beautifully written tale of life over a couple of weeks on a reservation, in Montana, in the 1970s. If you think such a setting would produce a sad tale of heartbreak, death, alcoholism and little hope, you’d be right. Much of this book is brutal in its depictions of the struggles of Native Americans stuck between native and “western” cultures. Lives are wasted, or ruined, people are robbed of their culture, their land, and their money. People drink to forget it all, and people die.

But it isn’t all horror. Despite the bleakness of the setting, the book is also often funny, darkly, funny in a almost slapstick way. And it isn’t without hope, that our narrator will survive, that the culture will be reborn, that the future will look better than the past.

A truly stunning work all in all. I understand this was a bit of a phenomenon when it first came out. It deserves to be read still.



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