By John G. Neihardt
Unsettling novel about frontier life in Nebraska.
Bizarre, witty, and unsettling, The Dawn-Builder tells the story of Mr. Waters, a one-eyed, one-legged printer, habitual self-loather, and consummate drinker who finds himself in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska Territory, in the 1860s. While working for the town newspaper, Waters’ isolation is shattered by two women: a motherly widow and the other-worldly, beautiful Island Girl, whose dark fate in the rough world of the American West ultimately changes Waters’ life for the better. Based on characters and situations introduced originally in the acclaimed short stories “The Discarded Fetish” and “Beyond the Spectrum,” The Dawn-Builder was John G. Neihardt’s first novel, written during an experimental creative interlude just prior to the First World War.