Civil War fiction of the 1990s, following the lead of filmmaker Ken Burns and historian Shelby Foote, tends to explore hagiographic themes, espousing platitudes about political self-determination, national reconciliation, and the liberation of those in bondage. Jack Dann's The Silent is a wildly eccentric exception to this rule that reads like a prequel to R.E.M.'s Fables of the Reconstruction. The novel's narrator, Mundy McDowell, is a 14-year-old witness to the fighting in the second year of what his neighbors would call "the War of the Rebellion." After sneaking away to watch the boys in gray fall in battle, Mundy returns in time to see his house burned and his mother raped and murdered by bloodthirsty Yankees. From this point on, he refrains from speaking to the strange visitors--including soldiers and the spirits of dead slaves--who start inhabiting the environs around his home.|
Although written in the coarse first-person style associated with Huckleberry Finn, The Silent has a structure and imagery that can accommodate the psychological realism of Gunter Grass and Jerzy Kosinski. (In fact, Dann cites Kosinski's The Painted Bird as one of his inspirations.) If you enjoy Civil War novels but are tired of sermonizing, The Silent may be the treat you are looking for.
Source: John M. Anderson, Amazon.com.