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Yonder Stands Your Orphan

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  407 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Barry Hannah has long been considered one of the country's best living writers, whose singular voice and wicked genius for storytelling have earned him legions of diehard fans. His first novel in ten years, "Yonder Stands Your Orphan" opens with the establishment of an orphans' camp and the discovery of an abandoned car with two skeletons in the trunk. Man Mortimer, a pimp ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2001)
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Full blown FAULKNERGASM, y'all, on the inexhaustible theme: ya cain't trust no one with perfect hair.
j. ergo
Holy shit. Small disclaimer: I met the man once. I met him we was already a hero of mine from Airships, Geronimo Rex & Ray, which I read my freshman year of college. That was 1988. Hannah was gone almost a decade from his fascinating & tumultuous teaching career at Alabama, but the stories of his five year reign as the wild man of Tuscaloosa still reverberated through the Creative Writing program, enthralling students and faculty alike. I'd be shocked & removed if anythings changed t ...more
You ever finish a book and say to yourself 'huh, maybe i missed something.' Because really, at the risk of offending those that really really like this book, I simply don't get it. The novel doesn't confuse me, just the praise it has received. Because I enjoyed the first 1/3 and then it just seemed too meandering, too unfocused, too ephemeral in all the wrong ways. The writing isn't lacking, and-again, perhaps I am wrong-there is a host of interesting characters, but for those compliments the th ...more
I needed something batshit crazy and bighearted, and there’s nobody better for both than Barry Hannah. My favorite when reading him is to forget— just for a minute, just long enough— all the ongoing story and pick a line, any line, to marvel at the mini-story packed inside it.

“Lightning loved the swamp. The willows thrashed now where all the souls of dead bad poets roamed day and night.”

“Spanish words, Japanese thoughts, for these elves of Confederate trash.”

“Here was a man who in his bad, bad
Mar 28, 2009 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of old-school Southern Gothic
Orphan is a beautifully written modern Southern Gothic tale set in Mississippi, with all the good stuff that implies: ex-biker/junkie preachers, fair widows, alcoholic Irish priests who compare themselves to Beckett, insane animal rights activists, violent pimps with fading looks, beautiful torch singers, disgraced doctors trying to find their way back to God, lots of whiskey, even more fishing, and plenty of blood. I love this kind of stuff, and it's even better that Barry Hannah has a preterna ...more
If I like this book more than it deserves I think a lot of people like it less than it does. That Hannah can use one of the character's identity as a bad poet to literary effect is also indicative of the way this book is written as a whole, and I don't mean that as a detraction. If the book is not completely successful in its aims, that failure is only mirroring, in not an entirely unconscious manner, what is one of the major themes of the book. Is that a copout? Probably, but I don't care.
"'Books, think about it, the writer of a book does envy, sloth, gluttony, lust, larceny, greed or what? Oh, vanity. He don't miss a single one of them. He is a peeping Tom, an onanist, a busybody, and He's faking humility every one of God's minutes. Especially those Christian ones that write about lawyers or accountants killing each other.'"
"'That's a sermon's sermon, boy. Well done. Drive on, my good man, drive on.'"

This is like the most demented epic poem you'll ever read. Chock full of all of
I was really enjoying this until about halfway through, when I stopped caring. I love his style, his characters, his scenes - but he just kept piling them on top of each other until they stopped being coherent and lost the impression of going anywhere. Maybe when I'm in the mood to just hang out with some weirdos in Mississippi I'll read the rest.
Angus McKeogh
This book pulls off an amazing feat. It's somehow too wordy yet never has enough information to figure out exactly what's happening. Moreover, it's pretty short but reads like a 1,500 page omnibus. Terrible! Skip it!
Every sentence is written to be a story in itself.
Tracey Lin
Could not finish this book. The plot was interesting but executed poorly. I couldn't identify with any of the characters. Too many words on philosophies, viewpoints, and setting and unable to hold my attention. The writing ran every which way, with hardly any focus. The story would jump from character to character randomly and suddenly. I made it about halfway through the book and not much has happened at all. Had to put this one down, and I rarely ever give up on a book. I simply stopped caring ...more
This is the 3rd from Hannah that I've read. He has a way w/words, w/language and that is a joy to read. But this one is also...all over the place. Who is the protagonist? I dunno. The narrative skips easily from one to another often in the same paragraph. Nothing wrong with that but if the reader is not set on reading or there are other distractions available--maybe the news is attuned and there's that breaking story about Mitt's dog, or polygamy, or some gawd-awful story (prop-piece) how the pi ...more
At times the people and setting gave me the sense of being inside a John Prine song. But the characters did not become tangible people, and the narrative was confusing and disjointed -- like the author was as drugged or insane as some of the characters. And ultimately there was a believability problem -- one sane and normal person amidst all the characters of the town? Just not realistic enough to suit the story, time, and place of the author's choosing. I gave up after 2/3 of the book.
(written 3-04)

Hannah's writing style is amazing. It is really like poetry. So concise yet descriptive, his use of old words turned fresh.

"She watched from her windows. She watched for men like a teenager. She watched for wildlife like a child. One day she saw an eagle fishing. Another day she saw an aarmadillo mother playing with her children.
She liked a big-stomached black fellow who sat on a white lard bucket fishing a lesser inlet of the big cove with a cane pole." 24

--and even the syllables
OK, seriously. I love being back home in the South, and I especially love being in Oxford. I get the romance of Oxford... at least as far as a Memphian can. I never pass within 300 miles of Square Books without going in. So it was with great eagerness and anticipation that I bought this Barry Hannah book, in 2010, the year that he died. The cover is festooned with praise from every great publication and every notable reviewer you can think of, and then 30 more after that. It basically says one h ...more
Sarah Pascarella
If Federico Fellini and David Lynch commissioned a work to represent the American South, "Yonder Stands Your Orphan" by Barry Hannah would fit the assignment. More a mood piece than a novel, Hannah's work is surreal and strange, with depraved characters, epic violence, and quirky relationships. The storytelling is muted, heavy on allusion and scenery, and Hannah always keeps the reader guessing as to just what exactly is going on--and then interrupts his lulled audience with a blast of violence. ...more
"A sort of burned laughter."

Many people I'm close to swear by Barry Hannah. His sentences stone, his proclamations astute and usually off-color. That said, if you didn't grow up fishing with your male relatives then Hannah's choice of subject matter probably won't appeal.

His scenes run unbelievable in plot and yet accurate in humanity & frailty. Again, though, you may not care about men drinking whiskey in a fishing shack who are pondering locally-made porn. "The better part of my malforma
The initial going was slow and you kept reading to see what craziness was about to ensue. I kept confusing many of the characters who had names beginning with M. Also, I should have made a flow chart of the strange and twisted relationships. What a collection of lost quirky souls! Funny, disturbing, and profound at times. I can see why Hannah is compared to Faulkner. If this were a movie it would be like Twin Peaks meets Deliverance. I wonder what the boys at Lynyrd Skynyrd would have to say to ...more
on page 145, don't know if I can finish. don't know what's going on. what is the point. rambling.
"Women, you can't live with 'm, you can't fuck 'm in the ear."
what is the point? Rambling.
Oliver Ho
Strange and interesting novel--beautiful and poetic sentences throughout, sitting at odd angles to one another and creating a discombobulating effect. The story feels southern gothic at its most modern and grotesque, although the plot is quite hard to follow for long intervals. By the end, I think I got what happened, but that seems beside the point. This novel seems more about the weird voices and haunted, desperate moments. I would re-read this one.
After I gave up keeping the characters straight, I simply relished the decadent plot turns (which I couldn't always figure out in time) and always startling prose. It's directly in the tradition of Southern Gothic fiction, so if, like me you hanker after that secret taste, you'll relish this novel too as sad and sick as it often is...
Well, that was weird and hilarious and disturbing. Pretty much everything I expect out of the late Barry Hannah. "Yonder Stands Your Orphan" is a doughnut fois gras bacon cheeseburger of a southern Gothic. It's probably not good for you, but it's delicious and disgusting and a more than a smidge transgressive.
Unky Dave
Jun 29, 2008 Unky Dave rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Southern literature
What a wonderful week when this and The Cadence of Grass by Thomas McGuane arrived simultaneously at my local bookstore. This is one of Hannah's most coherent and accessible novels, with an ensemble cast of well-developed and meaningful characters. I'm on my third copy as I've given copies away to friends.
Beth Allen
This book is extremely complex (dark and brooding as well). Set in Vicksburg, MS, about a not so nice local player. I had a tough time getting into it. If William Faulkner and Willie Morris had a love child, Barry Hannah might be he.
Aaron Searcy
"When you take someone for a friend, you feel you owe him something, she decided."

"But is there anything wronger than your young daydreams coming true?"

The villain is constantly described as a Porter Wagoner look-a-like. That alone makes it worth your while.
Ben Lee
Tom Waits wishes he wrote this book... it's hilarious and devastating and unmistakably southern.
While I still maintain Hannah is better in short form than long, Orphan is great.
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Barry Hannah was an American novelist and short story writer from Mississippi. He was the author of eight novels and five short story collections. He worked with notable American editors and publishers such as Gordon Lish, Seymour Lawrence, and Morgan Entrekin. His work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Oxford American, The Southern Review, and a host of American magazines and quarterl ...more
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“You need to see a bit of hell now and then. That, and great joy.” 6 likes
“Many robins got in the church from the trees and roosted among the congregation. They were drunk from some berries and fallen persimmons. Come into the mead hall out of the chill. In Viking history, once a Christian described human life as the flight of a bird through the mead hall. The outerness afterward, eternity.” 2 likes
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