Issue 9. February 2011
The Language of Treesdownload
Ilie Ruby's novel The Language of Trees is set in upstate New York and greatly informed by the Seneca Indians, whose lore imbues the book with spirituality. In 1988, the Ellis children set out on a stormy night in a canoe borrowed from the Songos next door to escape their brutish father. Luke, the youngest, drowns, and his older sisters are never the same: Melanie turns to drugs while Maya suffers bouts of catatonia. Years later, Grant Songo returns to his family's lake cabin after separating from his wife. While running in the woods, a wounded wolf trails him, and when Echo O'Connell, Grant's teenage flame, crashes her car to avoid hitting the wolf, she and Grant reconnect and are drawn into the mystery of the recently missing Melanie. Many locals believe Melanie's back on drugs, but Lion, the father of her baby boy, is convinced she's in danger. These characters face real and psychological fears to endure the transformative experiences needed to become whole in a worthwhile story filled with mysticism and symbolism. Ilie reads from the Maya section of the novel in this excerpt for The Drum.