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The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 1987 : FICTION PRIZE

October 04, 1987

On Nov. 6, The Times will award its annual Book Prizes in five categories--biography, history, fiction, poetry and current interest--along with the Robert Kirsch Award for a body of work by a writer living in or writing on the West. This week we publish excerpts from the books nominated in fiction. FOOLS CROW by James Welch (Penguin Books). In a northwestern territory of Montana circa 1850, a tribe of Blackfeet Indians (from which the author descends) fights against the Napikwans--white men--in a tragic attempt to preserve its very existence.

Fools Crow and Red Paint (his wife) stood outside their lodge, waiting. He had painted his face and he carried a feathered shield and a bow. His braids were wrapped with ermine skins and tied with red yarn. Red Paint wore a dress of elkskin trimmed with several rows of elk teeth. Her cheeks were rouged and she stood shyly. The cradleboard was on her back. Not too many winters ago it had held Red Paint, then Good Young Man and One Spot. The blue, white and red quillwork designs were slightly faded, but the skin was as soft as ever. Butterfly had been sleeping, but as the procession approached and the drumming and singing got louder, he opened his eyes and looked at the pegs holding the front of the lodge skins together. His eyes were large and dark as he watched the butterfly fan his wings on a peg. Fools Crow stepped back and made a face at him, and Butterfly looked back with calm curiosity.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 11, 1987 Home Edition Book Review Page 5 Book Review Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
"Fools Crow" by James Welch, one of the five nominees for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in fiction, was listed last week as a Penguin book. It is, in fact, a Viking book, though soon to be released as a Penguin paperback.

Then the procession was passing the lodge and Mik-api gave them a quick look. In his glance, Fools Crow saw a glint of almost youthful energy, a bright flame of pride that made the younger man smile . . . The procession managed a grave dignity as it wound its way through the camp. Only the few old people whose frail bodies would not allow them to join watched without getting up. But they too sang, and they remembered many hopeful springs when they had danced through camp, and they prayed that, after the sad winter they had lived through there would be hope and joy this spring.

THAT NIGHT by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc.). A young girl growing up in suburban Long Island during the '60s witnesses the passion and tragedy of two teen-age lovers.

That night when he came to claim her, he stood on the short lawn before her house, his knees bent, his fists driven into his thighs, and bellowed her name with such passion that even the friends who surrounded him, who had come to support him, to drag her from the house, to murder her family if they had to, let the chains they carried go limp in their hands. Even the men from our neighborhood, in Bermuda shorts or chinos, white T-shirts and gray suit pants, with baseball bats and snow shovels held before them like rifles, even they paused in their rush to protect her: the good and the bad--the black-jacketed boys and the fathers in their light summer clothes--startled for that one moment before the fighting began by the terrible, piercing sound of his call.

This is serious , my own father remembered thinking at that moment. This is insane .

I remember only that my 10-year-old heart was stopped by the beauty of it all.

Sheryl was her name, but he cried, "Sherry," drawing out the word, keening it, his voice both strong and desperate. There was a history of dark nights in the sound, something lovely, something dangerous.

One of the children had already begun to cry.

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS by Joyce Carol Oates (E.P. Dutton).

A 15-year-old girl's relationship with her uncle, a former boxer, grows into a haunting, near-fatal obsession.

Enid was crying and it made him angry, that was why he was trying to keep his voice light; she could feel the tension between them palpable as the charged air before an electrical storm. She looked at him, seeing his dark narrowed eyes, the pale scar in his eyebrow smooth as a piece of exposed bone. She said suddenly, "I didn't tell anyone," and he said at once, half joking, "Didn't tell anyone what!"--and she swallowed hard and went silent. He looked away, face twitchy in disdain, began to tap his fingers on the steering wheel so she could feel his agitation, his rising fury. "Look, you know I was drunk up there, I told you--I'm sorry for what happened Jesus Christ I'm disgusted I'm not that kind of a shit really!--taking advantage of a girl your age my own brother's daughter I'm not that kind of man," he said in a rapid voice, a murmur, his face darkening with blood, and Enid sat in a trance, her mind extinguished as if knowing what would come next, the words that would leap out of him next, harsh, hateful, no transition between one tone and the next, "You led me on, acting the way you did fooling around the way you did you knew damn well what you were doing didn't you!--and now I see you out on the street hitching rides!"

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