Northern Illinois University Press


A Good High Place

L.E. Kimball

“Ortega y Gassett says, ‘Tell me the landscape in which you live, and I will tell you who you are.’ The place itself—northern Michigan—bursts alive in L.E. Kimball’s wonderful debut novel, as do these unforgettable characters who inhabit its spirit and magic and grace. And the story so beautifully told that I read it in a single sitting, and then began reading it again.”—Jack Driscoll, author of How Like an Angel

“With poetry and spirit Kimball's words are like magic, moving fluently through time, multiple voices, and histories. Elk Rapids, Michigan is so intricately rendered it becomes another unforgettable character in this poignant tale about the wages of friendship, loss, and the heart in search of its rightful home. A thoroughly engaging novel and a luminous debut.”—Jaimee Wriston Colbert, author of Shark Girls

“If novels were bodies of water, A Good High Place would be a clear, rapid river running through the primeval forest of northern Michigan, revealing to its readers pools and eddies, places inhabited by love, loss, remembrance, and the ever elusive trout. L. E. Kimball’s story is written with grace and ease as it explores what was and, hopefully, what will always be true about our at once forbidding and generous American landscape.”—John Smolens, author of The Anarchist

Epic and nonlinear in nature, A Good High Place chronicles the lives of two women—Luella and Kachina—who, like the orbit of the sun and the moon, both attract and repel each other. Luella’s suspicion that her younger sister—who supposedly died at birth—is being raised as the sister of Kachina sets her on a path of self-discovery that generates more questions than answers. The Native American Kachina is an enigma, a person with a special healing touch who, it is rumored, never ages, leaves no footprints, and might never die. Her goal is to help her people, the Aninshinaabek, remain on the Red Path and resist being absorbed by white culture. To do this, she takes guidance from what she refers to as The Day, guidance Luella assumes can be “nothing less than the murmured confidences of God pouring from the sky.” Ultimately, Kachina and Luella find friendship among the conflicts of culture, duty, and even loving the same man.

Set during the years prior to World War I in Elk Rapids, Michigan, A Good High Place addresses familial struggles and those of a nation moving inexorably toward the age of the automobile. The sometimes painful adaptations of a faster-paced age are embodied, in part, in the struggles of Luella’s father who, already troubled by the death of his wife, wrestles with the realization that his livelihood as a steamboat captain is becoming obsolete.

(2010) 250 pp.
ISBN 978-0-87580-635-8
paper $13.95 t

L.E. Kimball’s work has appeared most recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Washington Square, Massachusetts Review, Lynx Eye, and Orchid. She lives along a trout stream in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-635-8
A Good High Place $13.95