My post on The Wild Hunt quoted extensively from the blog of Robert Moss. His work deserves its own post.
I had the privilege of introducing Robert Moss at a book store event here in Sisters a few years ago. He was in town to conduct a workshop on dreams. That’s what he does; he’s a Dream Teacher.
I haven’t explored his books on dreaming much, though I find them fascinating — but I’ve read a bunch of his fiction. He started out as a thriller writer, tapping his own background as an elite Cold War-era journalist on the intelligence beat. His Carnival of Spies is an outstanding historical novel, telling the tale of German youth named Johnny Lentz, who becomes a Communist during the turmoil at the end of World War I. After years serving as a deadly agent of the Comintern, he grows disillusioned with the Great And Murderous Lie, and turns his coat…
Just a great novel. It’s available on Kindle these days.
Moss turned his back on a very successful career. His bio states that:
He identifies the great watershed in his adult life as a sequence of visionary events that unfolded in 1987-1988, after he decided to leave the world of big cities and the fast-track life of a popular novelist and put down roots on a farm in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. Moss started dreaming in a language he did not know that proved to be an archaic form of the Mohawk language. Helped by native speakers to interpret his dreams, Moss came to believe that they had put him in touch with an ancient healer, an arendiwanen or “woman of power” and that they were calling him to a different life.
That different life included writing one of my all-time favorite Frontier Partisans tales: Fire Along The Sky. A young Irish rake named Shane Hardacre is exiled to the colonies, where he connects with his kinsman, the trader and agent among the Mohawk Sir William Johnson. Shane becomes embroiled in Pontiac’s Rebellion— and grows up.
It’s a wonderful picaresque novel, and deeply researched in primary sources. Shane Hardacre is a wonderful 18th Century character, who lets his cock do most of his thinking for him, yet who has surprising bottom when it comes to it. The writing is superb.
A tour de force that I have read many times and recommend most highly.
Moss devoted a full novel to the remarkable William Johnson in The Firekeeper. Johnson was the towering figure of the New York frontier throughout the French and Indian War era. He had a raging lust for life (and women) and an unusual ability to relate to the native peoples, particularly the Mohawk. He built quite a personal empire in the New York upcountry.
The Interpreter tells the story of a master shaman and his twin apprentices — the Mohawk dreamer called Island Woman and the young immigrant Conrad Weiser, who became a key figure in the Pennsylvania frontier culture of the mid-18th Century.