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Happy Valley: A novel

Nathan Matthew Walters, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In the summer of 1999, six months before his thirtieth birthday, the narrator and protagonist of Happy Valley, Sidney Boden, witnesses the death of his former fiancée in a mountaineering accident, the fault of which he believes to be his own. Telling himself that the odds of another tragedy occurring during the same climbing season are infinitesimal, Boden convinces his climbing partner, Dylan Powell, to attempt the first ascent of a problematic and highly coveted climbing route in their local mountain range—one on which Boden's uncle was killed thirteen years earlier. ^ Set in the North Cascades of Washington state, Happy Valley 's climbing narrative is told against a backdrop of local politics and economics snidely explicated by Boden, who works as a reporter for the local newspaper when his degeneracy and borderline alcoholism allow. Over the novel's nine weeks of narrative action, Boden's family history, self-righteous environmentalists, right-wing libertarians, the loony merchants of a Bavarian theme town, Forest Service policy, eco-tourism, small town violence, Internet pornography, epic poetry, too many drugs, too much drinking, and a series of mountain climbs that go exponentially awry are all fused together by a hundred-year forest fire that bears down on Boden's cabin in the mountains, itself the scene of a messy love triangle involving the local wilderness ranger and a poetess. The novel's climax finds Boden no longer asking himself whether or not it is finally time for him to grow up, but wondering how he possibly can. ^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Walters, Nathan Matthew, "Happy Valley: A novel" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3284253.