Forge, Oct 2001, 24.95, 305 pp.
Sixty plus years old apartment super Charlie Sarris is outraged that the landlord rented out the room by the water heater. Charlie uses that room to drink himself into oblivion. The new renter, failed Indian medicine man John Stone, is also in his mid sixties and enjoys alcohol as much as Charlie, which leads to a drinking camaraderie.
Charlie is awed by the duality of John's nature as the medicine man oozes a calming serenity while just below that soothing surface lies a disappointed outrage that occasionally surfaces. Soon the two buddies trek to a lodge near Binghamton where another medicine man, Joe Whiteshirt may have caused John's painful burns. When Charlie learns that his teenage daughter is pregnant, he is unable to cope so he accompanies John to Florida for a final showdown with Whiteshirt.
COUNTING COUP is an insightful look at two aging, acerbic individuals struggling with lost and wasted youth. The tale employs Native American mysticism and New Age elements to further contrast the theme of aging road warriors refusing to accept that life has past them by. Charlie and Jack are excellent characters whom readers will find interesting due to Jack Dann's in depth look at their flawed personalities that seems like a forecast of what boomers expecting to change the world for the better can contemplate will happen to them. Though a bit to New Agey at times, Mr. Dann can count coup with the many readers who will find this novel very fascinating.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner