A short allowance of hides.
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Smith, Daniel Robert, 1991-
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This novella tells the story of an ill-starred fraternity blowout named after the infamous Donner Party tragedy of 1846-47. A frame narrative relayed years after the fact by a playfully unreliable yet ultimately empathetic narrator, the text revels in digression, allusion, and symbolism. The setting is The University of the South, in southeastern Tennessee, with the exception of the first chapter, which is set just outside Nashville. While the story’s moral ecosystem remains modern, the style is markedly postmodern. The distant narrator wrestles consciously with his role as storyteller (“keep in mind,” he writes, “I am neither a biographer nor a historiographer or journalist but a narrative opportunist, a renderer of pleasant and scenic half-truths”), and the text is accentuated with fourteen footnotes, some of them stretching beyond the length of a single page. Recurring themes include mental health, brotherhood, guilt, moral decay, ennui, and the transition into adulthood.