With his clients dispersed in the towns of western Montana, social worker Pete Snow struggles against a lack of professional resources, his crumbling personal life, and a culture that finds solace in the bottom of a bottle and is highly disdainful of government intrusion.
After encountering Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy who lives in the backwoods, Pete comes face to face with his own opposite in the boy’s father, Jeremiah: a profoundly disturbed and paranoid survivalist who is itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times.
With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from the man and boy. But when his estranged thirteen-year-old daughter disappears, Pete must face a terrible truth-that someone who cares so deeply for helping others has spectacularly failed his own.
When Pearl’s activities spark the full-blown interest of the F.B.I., Pete is thrown into further turmoil as he finds himself at the center of a massive man-hunt, one from which no one will emerge unscathed.
Set against the heartbreaking beauty of Montana’s mountain wilderness, Fourth of July Creek is a timely and unflinching meditation on freedom, community, paranoia, dignity, rugged independence, and the reverberations of brutality and neglect in the lives of the most innocent.
Exploring America’s disquieting and violent contradictions, it is a
shattering and haunting novel that marks the debut of a major new voice
in contemporary American Fiction.
Smith Henderson is the recipient of the 2011 PEN Emerging Writer Award (in fiction). He was a 2011 Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University, a 2011 Pushcart Prize winner and a Fellow at the Michner Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He currently works at the Wieden + Kennedy advertising agency. His fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, One Story, New Orleans Review, Makeout Creek, and Witness. He lives in Portland, Oregon.