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Edisto (Edisto #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  747 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Very good. Minimal shelfwear. Scuffing of edges only flaw. No markings. Pages are clean and bright. Binding is tight.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 15th 1985 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1984)
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Jul 26, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-lit
Simons (just one M) Manigault is coming of age on Edisto Island. His mother is a professor, known as the Doctor or the Duchess. She's eccentric. Simons favorite picture of her is when he is pouring water on her as she lay face down drunk in the sand. His father, the Progenitor, took the picture back before the separation. He's a successful lawyer and would like to move them to Hilton Head where Simons can play baseball and go to a fancy school. Simons doesn't like baseball.

But the Duchess has a
Vit Babenco
Practically every time I am tempted to read critically lauded book it turns out to be far below my expectations. But actually it’s a small wonder – critics serve the publication industry and establishment and not a reader.
The twelve year old hero has a grownup’s advanced vocabulary and child’s rudimentary thoughts clearly induced by the author himself.
“Between living and dying, she had made two mistakes. One was letting her daughter go to New York to be a singer, and the other was letting them t
After nearly 2 months of trying to plod through this book and develop some sort of connection with it, I give up. Perhaps it's the erratic narration, the rapidly changing scenarios or a bunch of new characters appearing on every alternate page and scattering in the next one like headless chickens. Whatever it is I will have to remember that Padget Powell's brand of Southern Literature just doesn't work for me, finalist for the National Book Award or not.
I would rather spend my reading time exper
May 19, 2010 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual prose, some of it blistering. And by "some of it" I mean two sentences. The rest is annoyingly self-important blather. Sure, the author flouts convention. But convention is there for a reason, in this case READABILITY.
What seems inventive and fresh in snippets quickly becomes grating. Grating like that person behind you in the movie theatre eating malted milk balls one after another, chewing furiously. Grating like the woman in the cubicle next to you at work scratching her head with th
Nov 30, 2013 Trish rated it really liked it
For years I’d heard about folks interested to get a first edition copy of this novel, so I’d assumed it was a classic. Written in the time before Goodreads, it does not have a long history of reviews there, but I trust many members have read this classic since it first came out in 1985. Republished now as an ebook under the aegis of Open Road Media, this little gem gets a new airing.

A young boy grows up in his single mother’s beachside home in South Carolina. She works all day as a professor so

This character is a near perfect creation even though Simons is twelve and has a bigger vocabulary than Ernest Hemingway. Powell's writing inspires trust and the reader doesn't question that this boy talks this way. His mother, the Doctor, wants Simons to be a great literary star. He's supposed to be writing a novel at her request. His mother drinks at home while his father, the Progenitor, has left after a disagreement with the Doctor over how to raise Simons. Soon, a surrogate takes his place
Jun 11, 2012 Brynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a book that I will read again in ten, five, or maybe two years. It was beautifully written from the perspective of a young boy growing up in a small town around the Prohibition Era. I can't say I understood all of it, but it was beautiful. The plot can be disjointed in a way vaguely reminiscnet of Steinbeck's writing. I will come back to Edisto to visit its beaches, the Baby Grand, and the strange world of this boy.

(After rereading, 1/31)
The writing is still as lovely as the first time I
Apr 17, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
I tried...I really did, but this story just wasn't compelling enough for me. It didn't help that Powell's writing style is rather indirect. Definitely on the other end of the spectrum from Hemingway's flat, matter of fact prose. I don't have the energy to continually re-read passages to make sure that I understand what is happening.
Jun 04, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
It always concerns me when someone compares a book to Catcher in the Rye. It’s done too often and I’ve yet to find a book that truly measures up to Salinger’s classic. But I try and not let it put me off and to judge every book on its own merits. Of course now I’ve read Edisto I can see why people might want to compare it to Catcher in the Rye—they’re clearly wanting to compliment Powell on a job well done (and he has done a good job, no arguments there)—but it really doesn’t need to be compared ...more
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Shelves: books-i-hated
It is as if this author took a creative writing course, and then decided that they were ready to do a novel. Every novelistic cliche is present here, and it's boring beyond belief. Don't waste your time.
Mar 24, 2014 Pete rated it it was amazing
I started this book years ago, but finally finished it this past week, very very glad I did. The comparisons to Catcher in the Rye are imprecise, but there's not really a better way to peg a story seen through the eyes/mind of a seethingly intelligent young man. Simons feels at once older and younger than HC, and is far less of a dipshit, because he knows how much he has to learn about the world and can admit that tenderness. The last 50 or so pages really take off--it turns out you need to read ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Petergiaquinta rated it really liked it
I confess I'd never heard of this book or author until my own eccentric mother (shades of the Doctor?) dropped two mint copies of Edisto and Edisto Revisited on my coffee table last summer, along with a book on Mesopotamian mythology and a few other things I made her take with her when she left. I'm sure she picked them all up for a few cents at some estate sale or somewhere and I didn't really plan to read them until I was shuffling things around recently and noticed on the cover that Saul Bell ...more
Benjamin Rathbone
Oct 25, 2016 Benjamin Rathbone rated it really liked it
As far as books about seeing life through a child's eyes go, this is the best one I've read. The main character, Simons Everson Manigault, is a lot more learned than your average child as his mother, called by him the Doctor and by the locals the Duchess, is preparing him to be a famous author one day. He's a young white boy that regularly hangs out at the local juke bar, populated by 1970s black folk.

But he still carries all the same inexperience and innocence as a young boy struggling with hi
Sep 15, 2009 Katherine rated it it was ok
Recommended to Katherine by: Wall Street Journal
This book came from a list in the Wall Street Journal of best books about the south. It is the story of one summer in the life of an extremely bright, literate, 12 year old boy on the South Carolina coast. His parents are separated, his Mother seems completely negilent other than to surround him from birth with all the great works of literature. Seemingly out of nowhere a black man appears and is instantly installed as his substitute father figure. The two bond and adventure through the summer. ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Philipp rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1980s
Dry and funny. 12-yr-old protagonist/narrator, so things pass him by, but only barely, and he is amazingly honest about lying to himself (or denying some truths).
Just a fun read.
And, I'm not sure if this counts as a spoiler, since it doesn't give away any of the plot, but here is a culmination of sorts.
"I was, I am - I have to admit, that because my life is cloyed by practical plans and attainable hopes - I am white. Best thing to do, I figure, is to get on with it. [...] I had one of these whi
Susan Swartwout
Dec 02, 2014 Susan Swartwout rated it really liked it
A surprising and superlative coming of age story combined with wonderful descriptions of Southern life. Simons, a young writer-in-training by his professor mother whom he calls The Doctpr, is mature beyond his years and sports an impressive vocabulary and viewpoint of the world. His sexual naiveté, explored through the lens of his otherwise worldly eyes, is humorous, charming, and often blunt. The plot is not a page turner, but the reactions of Simons to his parents' separation and ongoing battl ...more
Sep 15, 2015 Gabrielle rated it did not like it
Could not get in to it. The highlight was the setting.
Jan 23, 2014 Ann rated it it was ok
I didn't get this story. It's about a very smart 12 year old boy who lives in the low country with his strange mother. It's summer and he visits his father. Didn't care for it.
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 22, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
Edisto Island sits among the other sea islands along the coast of South Carolina, midway between Charleston and Savannah. Both those cities have islands nearer; Tybee for Savannah and John’s and Pawley’s for Charleston. The out-of-staters and affluent go to Myrtle Beach Hilton Head, where there are golf courses, resorts and t-shirt emporiums. This leaves Edisto for families from the Upstate to congregate for their annual beach vacations, in a place where the fancy end of Edisto Beach holds a mod ...more
While it was apparent in certain moments, often solitary and brief flashes, what I wanted the most from this book was the atmosphere and identity of Edisto Island and Edisto Beach, a place I've been to often and love very much. Unfortunately, this turned out to be pretty rare. The story and dialogue and especially the style was interesting and compelling enough for me to continue reading all the way to the end, but it was a bit too scattershot and unfocused for my taste, and didn't really have a ...more
May 08, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 8th grade & up
More often than not, if a book is set in the American South before 1970 and has a diverse collection of characters - I'm going to enjoy it. There are, however, plenty of times when folks just don't get the nuances right - or even are so far off-base that it's just pathetic (those books I usually don't finish and might even burn, oh my!). Well, Mr. Powell hit the mark and I really enjoyed Edisto.

Having been introduced to Mr. Powell's via his work The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, I have to admit
Kyetra Belton
Oct 11, 2013 Kyetra Belton rated it really liked it
I was looking at books on NetGalley and Edisto caught my attentions. It is set in the South in the 1970's. I love books set in the South when they are written well and truthful. Edisto is one of those books.
The narrator is a twelve year old white boy named Simons. He lives with his mother, who surrounds him with literature and wants him to be a writer, and has an absent father. He is very bright and has an incredible vocabulary.He meets a mixed race man named Taurus, and is then immersed in the
Feb 16, 2010 Audrey rated it really liked it
Edisto is a coming of age story that draws a lot from Salinger in the voice of its intelligent, prickly protagonist. But Powell's interest in language is what really separates him from the Salinger wannabes. In his more recent works, Powell plays a lot with the form of the novel. Mrs. Hollinghurst's Men only almost-barely had a plot. Edisto, like Mrs. Hollinghurst's Men, has a first person narration – voluble, rambling – but the narrative stays firmly fixed in reality. Since we're in Simon's hea ...more
This book is less a story than it is a character and cultural study. The book centers upon the coming of age of a twelve year old boy that lives in the rural low country of South Carolina with his mother, whose character can be best explained by her nickname "The Duchess" and his idolized black father figure known as Taurus. The story begins nowhere and ends at the same place, but is wonderfully told and does give some insight to a clever and sensitive young boys journey toward manhood. I suppos ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-south
Coming of age story set in the American South. Twelve-year-old Simons Everson Manigault, white, is living in Edisto, a small Carolina coastal town -- a black community -- in the early 1970s. Simons is white; his parents are separated, and his mother, known locally as the Duchess, bring onboard a black man, known as Taurus, to be male "influence" for her son, who she also surrounds with literature, encouraging him to write. Simon's thoughts about life make up this novel. The voice is unique, the ...more
Mike Madden
Jan 27, 2010 Mike Madden rated it it was amazing
A coming of age novel for the generation whatever-the-fuck-my-generation is called. Finally, a novel that allows a teenager to have a refreshing amount of emotional maturity and levity. It lacks the cynicism and of Joyce's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' and Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye.'

American perspective is the main issue for Powell. How can an artist consider one's self so without exposure to the disparate cultures in America? It seems that, for me at least, that any literature t
John Asher
Oct 31, 2012 John Asher rated it it was amazing
The beautiful novel is among the most unforgettable novels I've had the joy to read. I made a remarkably poor choice of loaning my original hardback from an early run to someone, and have been looking for a replacement for months and was overjoyed to find a paperback copy a few days back in a used store.
The tone is different, but this one feels - to these eyes - more than a little like Ed McClanahan's great "The Natural Man." Similar protagonists - lost in youth, pretty certain to find their w
Apr 16, 2010 Eliza rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
2/22/10: Edisto is often compared to Catcher in the Rye, as it is a story about a 12-year-old boy, written in the first person, about life and its mysteries (and adventures) But Simons Manigault is funnier, fresher, and more charming than Holden Caulfield, and coastal South Carolina, where Edisto is set (Edisto is the name of the town) is a fascinating place. Or at least Powell makes it sound that way. Simons is curious, wise, naive--eager to find answers to the big questions (which are, of cour ...more
Sep 12, 2010 wally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: powell, favorites
my copy was signed by padgett at goehring's on 13th street, april 14th 1985. i guess this was padgett's m.f.a. at the university of houston, coached by donald barthelmew...i spell that right?

simons everson manigault, "a rare one-m simons", a kind of updated huck finn and all the characters in his life..."life is a time when you get pleasure until somebody get your ass. and one of the ways to prolong pleasure is to not chop up time with syllables." the boys at the baby grand...maybe kidd rock re
Simone Roughouser
Aug 29, 2010 Simone Roughouser rated it really liked it
another quick summer fiction. i love this novella-length book. padgett powell's writing style does not stop for you, it is rolling down hill right off the bat, you jump on and race along with it. i love how much he tests the limits of language, how he tells a story and creates an atmosphere with so many words and punctuation marks missing. the main character and narrator is a precocious rich white kid who hangs with black adults on the wrong side of the get the feeling he is maybe i ...more
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Padgett Powell is the author of four novels, including Edisto, which was nominated for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications, as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories and Best American Sports Writing. He lives in Gainesville, Florida, where he teaches writing at MFA@FLA, the writing program ...more
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“The Father wipes the silver chalice with a beautiful linen rag large as a small tablecloth, turns the cup two inches each time to keep you from having to drink where the last worshipper lipped it, as if that takes care of the germs. But I don’t care, I always reach out very piously—that’s to say, in slow motion, the way you move for some reason to take and eat the body of Our Savior—reach out and lay my hand over the Father’s in somber reverence to the moment and then press down as the silver rim clears my upper lip and suck a slug of wine that should have fed six communers. I have to, because the bread of His body is stuck to the roof of my mouth like a rubber tire patch, and if I can’t wash it loose by swishing His blood around, I’m going to have to dig it off with a finger, in slow motion, and possibly gag. When” 2 likes
“A whole section of the family tree is pruned and primped and assessed as I politely sit there. Overall, I detect that the tree is fine: its leaves gently turning in the breeze of life. We have no scandal blight, no limb-wrenching storms of fate, no bad apples. I wonder what it is like when the Kennedys sit around for a disk check like this.” 1 likes
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