The Green Age of Asher Witherow
Early on, narrator of this novel claims “the price of memory is a certain profound impotence.” This statement propels Asher Witherow, born into a mining family in late nineteenth century California, as he comes of age. An only child of caring parents, he also forms three bonds outside his family. A brother bond develops with fellow breaker boy Thomas Motion, whom Asher teaches his enduring calm manner for Thomas’s ability to see in the dark. Anna Flood is his sister confidante/first lover. A mentorship develops between Asher and the town’s young minister, who reads transcendentalists and has lived in India.
When Asher is the sole witness of Thomas’s horrific death, a series of rumors begin about the minister’s possible involvement. It catches even Asher’s vigilant mother in its thrall. Later, Anna’s pregnancy is the catalyst for further disaster in a town intolerant of outside ideas or actions.
Written in a literary style, images dominate plot, character, and history in The Green Age of Asher Witherow. Perhaps a function of this style and despite its grit, the novel seems set more in the author’s mind than in an historical time or place. It’s a fertile and compelling place, this consciousness, but its product this time around is also enough to depress a hyena.