The River offers up a translucent Illumination of the inextricable interlace between nature (physical world) and human nature (emotional psychology). Heller weaves a claustrophobic tale of sequential encounters between a half-dozen people, never all at once. Even though set in the far north (Hudson Bay basin), there's a pervasive sense of being hemmed in, chance hovering in the background, shaping encounters and experiences. In a sense, one would be able to make the case that this novel is a microcosm of The Dog Stars.

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