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Edisto (Edisto #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  707 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews

A novel that has drawn comparisons with the work of J. D. Salinger, Truman Capote, and Flannery O’Connor, Edisto centers on one Simons Everson Manigault, a twelve-year-old possessed of a vocabulary and sophistication way beyond his years and a preadolescent bewilderment with the behavior of adults. These include his mother, who is known as the Duchess, and his enigmatic fa

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Paperback, 183 pages
Published April 1st 1985 by Holt McDougal (first published 1984)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,524)
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Tony
Oct 20, 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
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Vit Babenco
Jun 18, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it liked it
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
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Samadrita
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
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Lisa
May 29, 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
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Trish
Dec 09, 2013 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Martin


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
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Brynn
Jul 10, 2014 Brynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jessica
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.
Jim
Jun 04, 2014 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Graceann
Nov 28, 2007 Graceann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Pete
Jun 28, 2015 Pete rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Petergiaquinta
Feb 12, 2012 Petergiaquinta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Philipp
Sep 16, 2012 Philipp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Katherine
Sep 11, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Swartwout
Dec 02, 2014 Susan Swartwout rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
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
Susan
Apr 07, 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
Ann
Jan 23, 2014 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kevin
Jan 13, 2016 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, an enjoyable book. I picked it up because I was going on vacation to Myrtle Beach and it seemed somehow relevant. I think I expected a little more humor and that never really happened.

Depending on how much you want to analyze it, it can be a simple summer read about a boy and his learning about the world, or a complex study of how adults mess up their kids. The style of the narrative never particularly grabbed me, though from other reviews, it seems others really liked it.

I'd say, go a
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Gabrielle
Apr 02, 2016 Gabrielle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could not get in to it. The highlight was the setting.
Allison
May 16, 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
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Kyetra Belton
Oct 11, 2013 Kyetra Belton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mary Tongel
Aug 25, 2015 Mary Tongel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I HATED this book. It came across as another pompous white man writing another semi-racist, sexist coming of age story. Does every story about a 12 year old boy's sexual awakening have to involve a school girl who pulls up her skirt for money? This book is the reason I didn't read any other books by white cis men this summer.
Audrey
Dec 29, 2015 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Asher
Oct 31, 2012 John Asher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mike Madden
Jan 27, 2010 Mike Madden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Pamela Denlinger
My backyard

Living on Hilton Head Island, not far from Edisto, I was eager to read this book. Would it have a Lowcountry flavor? Lowcountry characters? Could the story be told through the voice of a young boy? Oh my yes!
Eliza
Apr 21, 2010 Eliza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
wally
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
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Chuck
Dec 15, 2012 Chuck rated it liked it
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
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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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“Potato salad in the South is nothing less than the principal smuggler of cholesterol into the festive, careless heart. It is pure poison beneath the facade of bland puritan propriety. It is the food of choice at any food banquet of smiling relatives who celebrate tacitly among themselves the dark twining of two of their promising youth.” 1 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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