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Little Wolves

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Little Wolves

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A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota townSet on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that's pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the...
A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota townSet on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that's pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the...
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Description-
  • A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town

    Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that's pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor's wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The Wolfing

    She heard him from the mountain, a voice high and thin, breaking the night's quiet. The cry was such as her own children made when she was gone too long searching for food to bring back to the den. It was the cry of something blind and helpless, a cry of hunger. She heard it and she could do no other thing but go toward it.

    How it came to be alone in the tallgrass is a story for another time. She heard it with her sharp pointed ears and smelled it with her sharp black nose. Her nose told her the truth. It was not a wolf pup but a human baby, alone on a bed of prairie grass under the starry dark. She smelled on the breeze the horses that had come and gone, running hard. They had run away pulling a wagon that scarred deep ruts in the grass.
    Her paws stepped in these ruts, found the gouges the horses had torn from the prairie. She paused, suspicious, and sniffed the ground and raised her nose and sniffed the wind. They had been here, but they were gone, except the baby. In the torn grass she smelled the fear on the horses and in the air she smelled something burning. She knew the ways of the wind and fire out on the prairie. The fire was a breathing thing, ever hungry. The fire would be here soon and find where the baby lay in his nest of grass.
    She could not resist his crying because she was a First Mother who had birthed many children, and there were no others like her in this valley that smelled of smoke and terror. Her children had grown fat and happy until the coming of the Trapper the past moon, the Trapper who had killed her Mate, scattering the others, and then found the den where she had hidden her pups away.
    The cries of the human baby traveled through the night and found her ears and went into her ears and into her blood. The cries opened up places inside her that had not yet gone dry, where milk recently flowed from her nipples to feed her pups and make them strong. It hurt to make milk again.
    The coyote was skinny and mangy, her ribs poking from her pelt, and she needed food for herself, a plump mouse or jackrabbit. Here was this thing wrapped in a white cloth under the night sky. It had fallen from the running horses but the soft grasses had broken the fall. The running horses had not stopped for it. The child might as well have come from the stars themselves. And now it was alone here as she was alone. She did not think what to do, even if the baby bore the same tainted smell as the Trapper. Her body had told her when the milk rinsed out of her. She went toward it, sniffing tentatively at the corner of the cloth, and then touched the baby's soft skin with her wet black nose. The baby quit crying. It gurgled, shocked.
    The coyote licked it with her tongue and tasted the salty skin. If she had not been a First Mother, if another of her kind had found this pink bundle in the grass, the story might have been different. She stood over the child and crouched down so that it might reach her nipples and suckle. Yes, it hurt to make milk again. Her milk flowed out of her, emptying her of all she had to give, but her heart was full, as full as the night sky above.
    When the child was done feeding she opened her jaws, clenched the white cloth, and lifted the child from the grass. She carried him away from the smell of burning where the prairie grasses would soon blossom with flames. The child rocked to and fro in his hammock of cloth. She took him in this manner to the place she called home, the mountain from which she had first heard his cries, the mountain where she had been alone for a time, but not any longer.



  • Her...
About the Author-
  • Thomas Maltman's essays, poetry, and fiction have been published in many literary journals. He has an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato and he lives in the Twin Cities. His first novel, The Night Birds, won several national awards, including an Alex Award, a Spur Award, and the Friends of American
    Writers Literary Award. In 2009 the American Library Association chose The Night Birds as an "Outstanding Book for the College Bound."

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    Soho Press
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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