From the Reviews
With American Silence, Zeese Papanikolas creates his own work of art, a textual montage of media by writer Henry Adams, painter Jackson Pollock, and photographer E. J. Bellocq, as well as work by other Americans whose legacies and lives Papanikolas insists belie the mythology of the American dream. Carefully mapped and beautifully crafted, Papanikolas’s latest work exposes the hollow core of the American identity, pounded on possibilities generated by the imagination.
R. L. Streng, Western American Literature
In addressing the “emptiness” of the American soul following the destructive taking of the West, Papanikolas finds a common theme: “a kind of longing, a sense of something lost. . . and possibly irretrievable.” American Silence is imaginatively-written, no –holds-barred historical biography. Its goal is to expose gaping fault lines in writers, artists, musicians and the nation itself.
Richard V. Francaviglia, The Western Historical Quarterly
American Silence is an original history book. From the historian’s point of view the period covered in the book starts with the Lewis and Clark expedition and ends with glimpses of the decade following World War II. From the creative writer’s point of view, the book tells a different history, the one where the canvas of Bingham’s Fur Traders Descending the Missouri extends into Dorothea Lange’s The Road West – U.S. 54 in New Mexico. American Silence fills up the “unpainted . . . absence” of the masculine landscape with the “no there there” of the feminine inner wilderness at a point where “everything [becomes] conjecture” and collapses into silence.
Papanikolas uses his pen like a camera. This is not a book in any common sense of the term, but a carefully scripted docudrama: the elements of mise-en-scène, the process of editing and camera work, the cast, the voice-over and even the sound track are all there. As it stands, the book is ready to become a film.
Hager Weslati, Journal of American Studies