Louise Young has worked as a social worker, fire tower worker and model. At the University of Victoria, she completed two BFAs - one in creative writing and the other in painting. Her stories have appeared in The Malahat Review, The Louisville Review and Prism International, while her play, Hungry Ghosts, won the CBC Playwriting Competition in 1989. Icarus is her first novel. Young lives in Victoria, B.C.
Louise Young is an astonishing new fiction virtuoso. In this unforgettable debut novel, Young’s protagonist, Icarus, a young urban misfit, discovers a treasure map in a second-hand bookstore, He, his two brothers, and five of their friends set out into the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in search of the Lost Lemon Mine, where they hope to find a hoard of hidden gold. As they try to locate the ever-elusive mine, they begin to see into another reality inhabited by a band of native spirits. The spirits set about defending their psychic space and cause havoc among the brutish interlopers. When they finally find the gold, madness ensues and the resulting conflict involves an extraordinary struggle between the indigenous people in the spirit world and the urban carpetbaggers stuck in their material dimension. Icarus is a story about greed and human degradation, haunted by the mythic and the supernatural. It is a high octane mix redolent of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre a la Sam Shepard - beguilingly blended with Carlos Castaneda - and written in a style reminiscient of Cormac McCarthy.
An extraordinary diversity of characters (rough guys, fabulous women), scintillating language, [and] a storyline of pure dazzlement.
Icarus, genre bending and entertaining, is surely destined for cult status. Part prospector's tale, part New Age parable, it is at turns tongue-in-cheek and devastating. I would not want to walk on the same side of the street as any of its roguish characters yet, captivated and appalled, I could not put their story down. Tackling all the traditional themes, Louise Young torques them right round in prose that is beautiful, violent, and true. With Icarus, she makes her debut as a shaman of language.
It's always refreshing to encounter a debut novel that escapes the Canadian templates.
As much as it's anything else, Icarus is a spirited meditation on the warfare between art and pop culture, and I for one am envious.