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Of Love and Dust

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  367 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Ernest J. Gaines is best known for his prize-winning THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN, but OF LOVE AND DUST has equal power and fascination. It zeros in on an explosion in the making between two men, one black and one white, trapped in the vise of Southern back country prejudice.

This is the story of Marcus: bonded out of jail where he has been awaiting trial for mur

Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 31st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1968)
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Ana Mardoll
Feb 21, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Of Love and Dust / 0-679-75248-X

When a young black man is forced to work on a white man's farm to "work off" his prison sentence, he astonishes his more moderate peers by entirely refusing to accept the situation. Rather than capitulate, accept the situation, and "make the best of it", he chafes under the cruelties of the landowner, even though his stubborn refusal causes him intense pain and fatigue. Our narrator is at first surprised and then horrified as the rebellious young man continues to
Oct 30, 2011 Cateline rated it it was amazing
My first Gaines, and certainly not my last. His writing style is deceptively simple, exquisitely executed.

Of course I knew exactly how it could end, considering the time, 1948, and the location. A Louisiana plantation seeming run in much the same way it was run pre-Civil War, only with convicts, not actual slaves.

How far we've come, thankfully. Reading this book, makes one appreciate the strides we've taken as a country, and people.
Aug 20, 2007 Mikie rated it really liked it
Like watching a train wreck: You know what is probably going to happen at the end and you just can't look away. A fast read and a well-told story.
Aug 09, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Deceptively simplistic, and engaging in that simplicity. It's a great story.
May 02, 2009 Coleen rated it it was amazing
Very well written as his other books are. Engaging
Nov 15, 2014 Justin rated it it was amazing
This book shared so many similarities with Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying that it's no wonder I liked it so much.

Of Love and Dust is something of a beautiful slow-motion car wreck: You know what's coming and that it won't end well but yet you are completely engrossed and can't look away.

Like Lesson, Of Love and Dust is centered around a young black man convicted of a crime and another black man who acts as a mentor/defender. In this case, the young man is Marcus, who was bonded out of jail whi
Aug 09, 2013 Cindy rated it really liked it
Whew, couldn't put this one down! I had no idea it was written in 1967, until I was almost finished with it. I would imagine this is a fairly accurate account of life on a plantation. This book delves into the thought processes of the older generation blacks and a younger generation man (Marcus). So much of how the older generation reacts to situations is based on fear and the repercussions one person's actions could have on all of them. Marcus' views are completely opposite. His life experience ...more
Jul 31, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 17, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
It was such a good novel! It was
1948 a long time past the Civil War.
Mr. Hebert owned a plantation in Southern
Louisiana. He was "old school" and worked
his black tenants like slaves. He had
a Cajun overseer,Sidney Bonbon who followed
orders to work them hard.
A young black man Marcus, was bonded
out of jail to work off his time to the
tune of 10 years. He resented Bonbon's
authority and had a will of his own.
It was considered o.K. for Bonbon to
live with a black woman from the "quarters",
but Marcus wa
Nov 20, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it
A gritty, thought-provoking story about a older black man who has been trampled into submission by "the man" and his relationship with a younger black man who is determined not to let anyone keep him down. James is frustrated because he can't seem to convince Marcus that it would be better for him in the long run if he just accepted "his place" in the world and conformed. But to James' amazement, his opinion is the one who becomes changed as he watches Marcus stand up for his rights. A very well ...more
Monica Hyacinth
Oct 26, 2007 Monica Hyacinth rated it it was amazing
(I'm still in the process of finishing this book.)
it is about racial conformities and how they are sometimes imposed upon us whether are not we notice it.

It definitely brought into my perspective how lucky we are to have progressed so much racially as a society. However, there is always going to be more that we can work on. Of Love and Dust reminds its readers not to take anything for granted.

It is a quick read and very worth your while.
Valjeanne Jeffers
Aug 04, 2012 Valjeanne Jeffers rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible! Rich with culture and sexuality. The characters are so alive, so tragic and yet powerful. One of his best offerings.
Mar 11, 2011 Kimberly rated it really liked it
I loved this book! If you read a lesson before dying and were moved ny Ernest Gaines then book will not disappoint.
Mar 08, 2009 Gene rated it it was amazing
This is a timeless Classic from one of my favorite writers! This is a study on race relations at its finest.
Mar 21, 2011 Lauren marked it as to-read
about South Louisiana in 1940s
mentioned in James Lee Burke's Black Cherry Blues
May 11, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
I read a review of this book that said reading this story is like watching a train wreck – you know what is going to happen, but you just can’t tear your eyes away. I was reading the book during choreography and blocking breaks at rehearsal, and it was really hard to put it down when it was time for me to play again! I had previously read Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying, and I know that this man has a great gift for storytelling. Of Love and Dust is set in 1948, in Cajun country, Louisiana. A youn ...more
Jun 25, 2014 M rated it really liked it
Gaines really knows his way around a story. Once again we have a case of a man needing to take responsibility for a neer do well - in this case a young black man who is trying to avoid jail time for committing murder, and must pay off his debt to society by working the land of a spiteful, abusive white man. The black man plots a rather cold and calculated revenge as the narrator looks on. There were a lot of layers to this story, and it was beautifully written in an understated way.
Pamela Pickering
My first book by this author. Gaines has interesting writing style which seems to capture the nuances and times of the story. I would consider the story very "raw". The story paints an interesting picture of life for African Americans in Louisiana in the late 1940s where even though slavery was abolished almost 100 years prior, similar institutions and practices still remain. Although not my favorite read, I consider it an important one to illustrate history in that era.
Christine Baese
Oct 11, 2014 Christine Baese rated it really liked it
Not far into this book, its easy to tell that Marcus will be killed and his presence at the plantation will wreak havoc on its residents. Still the writing is engaging, beautiful, and painful. The bad judgments of its characters seem so obvious that they would be easy to avoid, if only there were better options in their lives. The relationships presented seem stronger as the novel closes than throughout its course. ...more
Brittney Martinez
Apr 14, 2016 Brittney Martinez rated it really liked it
Forget everything you know about the anti-hero. Marcus is the most anti- anti-hero I have ever read. Rarely do you root for him. In fact, you wouldn't except that his actions can be the start of very revolution change on the plantation he works on. Gaines looks at love, honor, and friendship in a lens I have never seen used before. I recommend this book for those who love Southern and/or black literature.
Dre J
Jan 07, 2016 Dre J rated it it was amazing
Well written novel that many questions of race, relationships, secrets and betrayal will arise while reading. A story that the ending is coming quickly and it is already known what the outcome may be (give or take a situation or two) but when it is over these characters really stick with the reader and the pity and grief and understanding we gain while reading about them is all too real
Apr 26, 2013 William rated it really liked it
The narrator was one of the most affable, easily to identify with first person narrators I've come across; however, he seems to be privy to more detail than is credible. The plot is similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, only this time with a racial theme as well the human theme. Which one is predominate is up to the reader.
Aug 31, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Another boom that I went back to years (maybe 15) later. Lovely writing, excellent storytelling, sad times and story.
Feb 03, 2016 Pamela rated it really liked it
Beautifully written about sad and awful circumstances. I love this author.
Jan 08, 2016 Coleen rated it it was amazing
Very well written as his other books are. Engaging
Jan 01, 2008 Sajeev rated it liked it
Sep 22, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it
This book didn't make me quite as tense as A Gathering of Old Men did--thank goodness. I think that the reason it didn't is that it was pretty clear to me that the main character was going to come to a bad end, so I mainly felt an overriding sense of sadness all the way through. This book speaks to issues that are still troubling our culture, even though it was published almost 50 years ago. Gaines is a great author.
Anita Peeples-lowe
Ernest Gaines is an awesome author....his stories get in your head. I felt like I could actually hear the characters voices. Good Read!!!
Apr 07, 2012 Jamie rated it liked it
My prof attempted to make a case for this as one of the true underrated "major" works of 20th century American fiction. I'll tell you what: I don't buy that at all, but it wasn't a horrible way to spend three or four hours. Just ultimately seemed to me like a somewhat Lifetime movie-of-the-week or L&O: SVU approach to a Faulkner-esque tragedy. So there we are.
Marieca Lashawn
Dec 30, 2013 Marieca Lashawn rated it liked it
This book was very well written of course, but I just struggled to finish it. it seemed to progress so slowly. I was tempted to go to the end and just find out the conclusion. I appreciate the look into 1948 Louisiana. Overall good book.
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Born to a sharecropping family, Ernest Gaines was picking cotton in the fields by age nine and only attended school five or six months a year. When he was fifteen, he moved to California to join his mother who had relocated during World War II, and began writing. He attended San Francisco State University, served in the army, and won a writing fellowship to Stanford University. Gaines has been a M ...more
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