Georgia, 1898: On what may be the last day of his life, Captain Frederick Benteen the man who saved Custer’s Seventh Cavalry from almost certain death at Little Bighorn receives a letter from an ambitious boy offering to restore his reputation. For over 23 years Benteen has silently watched Custer’s legend grow. His General has been dead for more than 20 years, killed in action, considered a hero, while the public has never forgiven Benteen for surviving. Now, at last, he begins to put down some account of those two horrific days pinned down on a ridge. What follows is an exquisite eulogy for his fellow soldiers, both alive and dead. This novel avoids the bloody battle scenes and maudlin romance that characterize much war-based fiction in favour of an unsparing and poetic story that explores what it means to be a soldier then and now, and how celebrities are made.
(Reissued in Australian paperback as The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers and Selected Stories).
- The Commonwealth Prize (Asia Pacific Division)
- Spur Award (US; Best Short Western Novel)
- Adelaide Festival Award for Fiction
- Adelaide for Festival Award for Innovation
“This beautifully complex novel, with its echoing lacunae, its delicate touches alongside brutishness, reads like a timeless work of human history. Ms. Falconer’s gift for phrasing and putting the right words to fleeting emotions makes the intimacy of her drama all the more compelling.”Barry Lopez
“This is a lovely, spare but beautifully written book full of contrast. It is a very feminine, reflective, and quiet book about a man whose life was masculine, noisy, and full of action. It takes a single point of history which is so well written about and so heavily acted out that it has become more folklore than story, and turned it into an inventive, original story of everyman–a parable for the modern soul.”Compulsive Reader
“A splendid and absorbing novel.”Jim Harrison
“The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers is evocative and melancholy, a poetic impression of Captain Benteen toward the end of his life . . . The book is original and vivid.”Evan S. Connell
“…an intensely quotable book – such a rarity these days, when most prose is as memorable as fast food”Sydney Morning Herald
“It is a rare event in the arts that makes a critic want to lift his or her game, to find adequate praise, exact praise, just praise. Delia Falconer’s new book is having that effect on me right now.”Film critic Adrian Martin, launch speech
Delia talks about writing The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers on ABC Radio National “Books and Writing”ABC Radio National