A construction project in the desert of eastern Oregon forms the basis for a story with deep political, mystical, and--for its time--prescient implications: the impingement of American imperialism on its own native territory. Set in the 1980s, the project underway is to be a "prison for profit" where alien captives are incarcerated in secret. Broken Ground is about the seen world of excavated earth, steel, and concrete, and the unseen world of ghosts and spirits, bound together by an undertaking that expresses the root of both a clandestine and overt political evil that extends well into our present time.
"The re-issue of Broken Ground comes at a challenging time for fiction, and indeed for all art forms. What is the work of a writer in a world gone so dangerously wrong? Maybe writers' loyalty is to their work, and the great and sole obligation of writers is to write as well as they know how. But is there an obligation also to the time, to ask the questions that may have no answers, to challenge wrong-headed or destructive authority, to cry out from the margins in defense of what is beautiful and true? Broken Ground is evidence that a writer can do both, and, indeed, it is testimony to John Keeble's conviction that a writer must write powerfully even as he engaged the quandaries of our time."
Kathleen Dean Moore, from the "Forward."
A deftly evoked, beautifully perceived novel about trouble and doubt, about the persistent trickiness of life. Mr. Keeble's major themes--freedom, culpability, death--reverberate against a remarkable background, the construction of a federal prison in the Oregon desert. It is a fresh, wise, consistently engaging work.
Barry Lopez, National Book Award winner and author of Arctic Dreams.