The following remarks are drawn from "H.L. Davis," by Paul T. Bryant, Boston, Twayne Publishers, © 1978
What is one of the best-kept secrets in The Dalles? No, not the brothels, not the Chinese opium dens, not the site of the last public hanging in the U.S. But rather that The Dalles was the home of Harold Lenoir Davis, Oregons only Pulitzer-Prize winner for Literature!... In The Distant Music, Davis attempts to present some deeper truths: what happened to the hopes of the first settlers and succeeding generations. It is not a pleasant novel, and lacks the frequent wry humor of his most successful works. This somber tone elicited some negative reviews. The most perceptive review noted the connection between the novel and the earlier sketch, and recognized the land as the motionless center of the novel all motion radiates outward from the land and is drawn back to it, and the central characters movement away from the land decreases as the novel progresses. And as the pioneers settle down, they begin to entertain such homemade illusions as Progress, Betterment and civic Virtue.