…he started out with his eyes firmly on the guiding star, his feet planted on the path, but that’s the thing about the life you walk—you start out po
…he started out with his eyes firmly on the guiding star, his feet planted on the path, but that’s the thing about the life you walk—you start out pointed true North, but you vary one degree off, it doesn’t matter for maybe one year, five years, but as the years stack up you’re just walking farther and farther away from where you started out to go, you don’t even know you’re lost until you’re so far from your original destination you can’t even see it anymore - Don Winslow
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown - Henry IV Part 2 – W. Shakespeare
After eighteen years in the NYPD, Detective Sergeant Denny Malone has good cause for unease. The de facto king of Manhattan North has seen considerable upheaval in his kingdom. He may be, effectively, the head of this select unit, charged with going after gangs, drugs, and guns. “Da Force” may have unusually free rein to do as they see fit to accomplish their goals. But a turf war between competing providers of recreational pharmaceuticals is growing increasingly kinetic, with one of the combatants looking to purchase a considerable supply of death-dealing hardware. Not OK. The captain is pressing for a high-publicity bust. There is also the perennial political dance one must perform to keep the brass at One Police Plaza and the political suits from interfering with business as usual. Of course, what passes for business as usual might not look all that good splashed across the front pages of the local tabloids.
Don Winslow - image from Milanonera.com
Bribery may be the grease that keeps the wheels of civilization turning, but it leaves a lot of cops with very dirty hands. Denny is no saint, and no Serpico. He may mean well for the community he is charged with protecting, but his methods often lack the soft gleam of legality. We first meet him as he arrives in federal lockup. The novel then goes back to show how he got there. Slippery slope stuff. See the greased wheels above.
The street stays with you. It sinks into your pores and then your blood. And into your soul? Malone asks himself. You gonna blame that on the street too? Some of it, yeah. You’ve been breathing corruption since you put on the shield, Malone thinks. Like you breathed in death that day in September. Corruption isn’t just in the city’s air, it’s in its DNA, yours too. Yeah, blame it on the city, blame it on New York. Blame it on the Job, It’s too easy, it stops you from asking yourself the hard question. How did you get here? Like anyplace else. A step at a time.
Lines are crossed here with the frequency of runners reaching the end of the NYC marathon. Early on, Denny and his crew take out a major distributor, whack the principal, and skim off a significant portion of the captured product, a bit of an extra retirement fund. Some people are a tad upset by this. It’s not exactly much of a secret, though, and there are those who would like to see Denny being saluted by the entire force in Dress Blues and white gloves while someone plays Taps.
One of the great powers of this novel is the perspective offered on diverse forms of human behavior. Is Denny a brute for roughing up a guy who beat up a kid? Definitely outside the law, but are his actions effective? Denny really does care about the people in his kingdom. He cuts slack when possible, and brutalizes when it is called for. But the law seems a lot more of a recommendation than an absolute.
Winslow offers a close up look at a dark element of police culture. How does being on the take work? Who gets what? How is money distributed? Who is it ok to accept bribes from? What is allowed that would otherwise be justiceable? And why do the cops here consider it ok? He offers as well a moving look at the human relationships that make up police life, the code of honor, the power of partnership, the requirement that all members of the team partake of the ill-gotten, if only as a means of self-protection, the wives who turn a blind eye to where that extra cash may have originated, and what their breadwinner may be up to when the crew parties hard, up to a point anyway. The interaction between the police and people in their area is rich with real affection, as well as the expected cynicism. Some of these scenes are stunningly moving, tissue worthy.
How about the relationship between cops and the local criminal element? You might be reminded of those cartoons in which Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote punch a time clock, go at it, then clock out at the end of the day, friends. The cops and criminals often seem cut from the same cloth, although the baddest of the bad guys are certainly much worse than the worst of the cops. And the bullets really kill. Winslow does not spare the one-percent, either, in his look at layers of amorality.
Don Winslow is a seasoned writer at the pinnacle of his craft.
Malone drives past the Wahi diner and the mural of a raven on 155th. Past the church of the Intercession, but it’s too late for Intercession, past Trinity Cemetery and the Apollo Pharmacy, the Big Brother Barber shop, Hamilton Fruits and Vegetables and all the small gods of place, the personal shrines, the markers of his life on these streets that he loves like a husband loves a cheating wife, a father loves a wayward son.
There are wonderful nuggets of law enforcement intel in here. Like the notion of testilying. Or what is considered proper attire for a day on the stand. How about special celebratory nights for a crew? The upside of EMTs not taking a Hippocratic oath. Rules for note-taking on the job. How 9/11 saved the mob. Planning your crimes so they cross as many precinct boundaries as possible, increasing the likelihood that a paperwork snafu will botch a prosecution. On tribes within the force.
Winslow has a Damon Runyon-esque ear for character names. My favorites were a CI named Nasty Ass, and another the cops call Oh No, Henry, and a linguist’s appreciation for the local patois. Or maybe that would be another well-known tellerr of tales. (I think Dickens is one of the progenitors of noir fiction, writing as he did about the criminal underclass.) He peppers the novel with delicious small side-stories. Tales told in a bar by guys who have been spinning yarns for a lifetime. They give us occasional breathers from the breakneck pace.
He takes on topics that will resonate, from Blue on Black violence, and the resulting reactions, to how the jails are functioning as de facto mental hospitals and detox centers. From a consideration of God and the Church (Denny is not a fan) to the impact of the job on people’s lives. Denny recalls his father. He was a cop on these streets, coming home in the morning after a graveyard shift with murder in his eyes, death in his nose and an icicle in his heart that never melted and eventually killed him. From how cops cope with the daily horrors to how the crime numbers are cooked to support whatever preconceived outcome was desired. On the Iron Pipeline, the route on which legal guns from Texas, Arizona, Alabama and the Carolinas become illegal guns in NYC. The politics of police tactics and voting. The hatred and respect the cops have for the best defense lawyers. Their relationship with reporters. You trust a reporter like you trust a dog. You got a bone in your hand, you’re feeding him, you’re good. Your hand’s empty, don’t turn your back. You either feed the media or it eats you.
Denny may be dirty, but you will be dashing along with him and hoping for the best. Maybe this whole situation can be fixed. He is a rich, multi-faceted character, and you will most definitely care what happens to him. Think Popeye (Gene Hackman) of The French Connction, or Lieutenant Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) on the wonderful TV show Shades of Blue.
You might want to secure your seat belt and make sure that your Kevlar is all where is it is supposed to be. This is a non-stop, rock’em, sock’em high-speed chase of a novel, a dizzying dash through an underworld of cops, criminals, and those caught in the middle, screeching stops, and doubling backs, hard lefts, harder rights, and Saturn V level acceleration. Once you catch your breath after finishing the final pages I expect you’ll find yourself realizing just what a treat it has been. The Force is not just a great cop book, it is a great book, period, a Shakespearean tragedy of high ideals brought low, with one of the great cop characters of all time. The Force is an instant classic.
Review posted – February 24, 2017
Publication date – June 20, 2017
Don Winslow has written many books before. Some have been made into films. I have read none of them, so can offer no real insight into what carried forward from his prior work, or where new notions or techniques may have come into play. I read this totally as a stand-alone.
A girl nowadays has to get nice and close to tell if her man ain’t shit and by then it might be too late. We were girls once. It’s exciting, loving
A girl nowadays has to get nice and close to tell if her man ain’t shit and by then it might be too late. We were girls once. It’s exciting, loving someone who can never love you back. Freeing, in its own way. No shame in loving an aint-shit man, long as you get it out of your system good and early. A tragic woman hooks into an aint-shit man, or worse, lets him hook into her. He will drag her until he tires. He will climb atop her shoulders and her body will sag from the weight of loving him.
It does not matter where you are planted. How can you grow straight and strong if some of your deepest roots have been ripped out? If the cords that nurture are cut before completing their mission? The Mothers is a story of absence, a tale based on what is not there, and secrets about what is. Nadia Turner is a pretty seventeen-year-old, living in Oceanside, California with her father. For reasons that are never made entirely clear, her mother killed herself. Dad turned inward and to their church for solace or distraction. Nadia sought comfort elsewhere, with Luke Shepherd, the pastor’s handsome son, which led to her becoming pregnant.
Brit Bennett - from her site
Oceanside has a small town feel, made even more so by the Greek chorus narrators, the elder mothers of Upper Room, the church that Nadia and her father attend. Most chapters begin with “the mothers” offering observations based on their long experience. The book opens with one of the best of these:
All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season. But we didn’t. We shared this sour secret, a secret that began the Spring Nadia Turner got knocked up…
The mothers feel somewhat spectral, but some of them get involved in very material ways throughout the story.
Bennett’s book was conceived from some of her adolescent concerns:
In a lot of ways, I was writing in the direction of my fears. When I was younger, one of the worst things I could have done was to get pregnant. Another thing that really scared me was the idea of losing my mother - from the Vogue interview
The core plot structure is a romantic triangle. Nadia is smitten with Luke, although he shows himself to be something less than a beacon of light. She becomes close friends with another young woman who is also working at the church. Aubrey is the darling of the pastor’s wife, a devoted Christian who wears a chastity ring. She has had a rough go of it, though, living with an older half-sister, as the latest in her mother’s seemingly endless string of loser boyfriends has made life at home intolerable. As college-bound Nadia moves on and up, Aubrey and Luke become involved. But there is still a spark between Nadia and Luke, and things get complicated.
Secrets abound. Why did Elise Turner kill herself? Nadia’s abortion is known to a few, but is kept hidden from most, for diverse reasons. Affairs must, by their nature, take place out of sight. Aubrey keeps some pretty serious secrets of her own. Sometimes, when secrets are revealed, the results are extreme.
And I thought the book was going to take place just in one summer. But then as I got older, I realized something obvious—that the coming-of-age process doesn’t happen so neatly. The book, I think, is about this central question of how girls grow into women when the female figures who are supposed to usher you into womanhood aren’t there. - from the Vogue interview
Absence is profound. When Nadia’s mother killed herself she took a huge piece of her daughter with her. Coping with that deep loss is core to Nadia’s personality and struggles. Compounding the loss of her mother, Nadia’s father retreats into himself, becoming the most minimal sort of father. Aubrey also suffers from the loss of her mother. Although she is alive, Mom remains an absentee part of her life. Both Nadia and Luke contend with feelings about the abortion over the years, wondering what their lives might have become if they had raised a baby. While much of the what-iffing centers on the abortion, other people’s forked roads are considered as well. What if they had done this instead of that? Made that choice instead of the one they made. What might their lives look like? What might Nadia’s life have looked like if her mother had lived? What might her mother’s life had been if she had chosen to live it?
Community clearly figures large here, both in a positive and a negative way. This is communicated through the church, where people can be wonderfully supportive, but also spiteful and malicious. The mothers of the title refers not just to the church elders, but to Nadia and later Aubrey, and to their mothers as well. And Luke’s mother (a mama grizzly if there ever was one) too, for that matter.
The book had a multi-year gestation.
I grew up with this book. I started writing it when I was about 17 or 18, so either in college or about to go to college—and then started working on it more seriously in college and then grad school. So when I started writing The Mothers, I was the same age the characters were. I grew up as the characters stayed the same. - from the Jezebel interview
There is a richness of language to this book that is surprising given the tender age of the author. Yet, there is such an ear for sound and rhythm, the cadence of language, and the beauty. Many times I imagined the dialogue being spoken on a stage, and wondered if parts were born there. Bennett has a story-teller’s ability to pull readers in, as if by a campfire on a warm evening. “Gather round, come on now, in closer. That’s right. Settle. Everyone comfy? Ok? I’ve got a story here I think you’ll want to hear.” And then she begins, “We didn’t believe when we first heard, because you know how church folk can gossip…” All eyes fix on her, and thought of all else floats up into the night, competing for air space with fireflies, mosquitoes, and wafting smoke from the blaze. Bennett’s voice swaddles us in the sound of story, in her portraits of people, and we fly with her through her realm. It is a journey worth making.
I came by this book in an unusual way. I was contacted by Quarterly re their Literary Box. Each quarter they feature a new author, who curates the box contents. This would be a primary book, annotated by the author/curator. There were about (I say “about” because I have a tendency to lose things, so the number may be a touch higher) eighteen 3”x3” post-it notes in the book intended to appear to be in the author’s hand, offering bits of background on diverse elements of the novel. I was reminded of pop-up videos. This was wonderful. I wish all books had such additions. The author selects two other books to be included in the box and there is a bit of non-book extra as well. In this case a mug and some tea. Despite it being February when this review was posted, this box was sent to subscribers for October 2016. I received mine in mid-January 2017. Overall, the wonderfulness of the primary book aside, I thought this was a delightful package. If you want to check out their past literary boxes, adult and YA, or other stuff, you might try here. And no, no one asked me to make nice. Not being a presidential counselor, I can do this.
My whole life I’d seen only one. I loved my South, though I could see how it was broken, plagued still with the legacies of slavery and war and segr
My whole life I’d seen only one. I loved my South, though I could see how it was broken, plagued still with the legacies of slavery and war and segregation, history and a thousand unseen walls divided up the territory so that we had a black Baptist church and a white one, and the narrow aisle between the color-coded lunch tables at the high school was invisibly a chasm filled with dragons. Still, I always thought my homeland was a single place. I was wrong. The South was like that optical illusion drawing of the duck that is at the same time a rabbit. I’d always see the duck first, his round eye cheery and his bill seeming to smile. But if I shifted my gaze, the duck’s bill morphed into flattened, worried ears. The cheery eye, reversed, held fear, and I could see only a stolen rabbit. The Souths were like that drawing, both existed themselves, but they were so merged that I could shift from one and find myself inside the other without moving,
Leia Birch Briggs, 38, single, living in Norfolk, VA, is a comic book artist with a Dark Horse contract to write an origin story for her successful graphic novel. She learns that her grandmother, the family matriarch lovingly known as Birchie, showed that she had lost a few marbles at a church event when she made a public comment about some private, and illicit goings on in the choir robe room. Just a teency bit out of character for the very proper grande dame of the Alabama town that had been established by her grandfather. This makes it a big week for Leia, who has just learned that that Dark Knight with whom she had somewhat drunkenly hooked up at an Atlanta Comic convention had given her another origin story to think about, a bi-racial one. And her step-sister has just thrown her husband out of their home. Leia heads to Birchville to see to granny, get the old house cleared out and Birchie placed where she can be looked after. But things get complicated when a long locked trunk is opened and an ancient secret comes to light. Have a nice day.
Joshlyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters uses a few biological/emotional pairings to highlight the underlying dichotomy of the South, a place that can offer the comforting warmth of caring community atop an undertow of ancient bigotry. Leia and her step-sister Rachel struggle with their competitiveness, forged very early when Leia’s mother married Rachel’s father. Leia’s father had met an untimely end, a victim of a DUI. 90-year-old Birchie is bound at the hip to her lifelong bff, Wattie Price, the daughter of a family servant, but the best and closest friend Birchie has ever had. There are other bits of mirroring as well, fiscally dubious heads of household faring poorly in the managing of their family’s finances, for example. And much more is to be seen through Leia’s work.
Joshilyn Jackson - from Atlanta Magazine
Throughout the novel, Leia struggles to concoct an origin story for her Violence in Violet graphic novel. The insights Leia gains, to her relationship with her step-sister, to her relationship with her expected arrival, to the fetus’s baby-daddy, and to her appreciation for the contradictions within her beloved South find an outlet in her drawing. Each relationship has an origin story, and in looking at the individual tales Jackson compiles a portrait of a place, a time, and how it got to be the way it is.
Both the hominess of this small Southern town and the darkness of some of the underlying attitudes offer a challenge for Leia as she uses her insight to the place to maneuver her way through the sundry challenges she faces.
In her recent novel about racism, Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult went with a full-on courtroom drama to cast a spotlight on what racism looks like. Joshilyn Jackson was born and raised there and lives there today. She knows it well. Her approach is to offer a very smart look at the layers that co-exist there, using very relatable people dealing with their family problems. And not only are the layers considered, but one’s ability to perceive what is right there is called into question. There is drama, to be sure, but it is not of the ripped-from-the-headlines sort.
Readers of Jackson’s earlier work know that she has a fondness for blended families and will not be disappointed here as she does mix-and-match, putting together pieces of families to make a functional whole. It works well, as it has in her earlier novels. She also has a affection for adolescent female characters and includes one here, as well as looking back at the past of some who are long past their teens. Faith usually provides one of the pillars of Jackson novels. There is certainly some of that here, but it seems that it is more in the communal aspect of faith, the public, rather than the contemplative element. The two old ladies belong to two town churches, one primarily black and one primarily white. Differing beliefs do not much enter into things, but social separations do.
Leia has it in mind that the old South will give way to a newer, more inclusive, more blended version. We can only hope she is right. Joshilyn Jackson has once again written a moving novel, one that engages with wonderfully-drawn characters and informs with astute and sensitive observation of a complex culture. Whether you originated in the South or somewhere else, this trip to Birchville, where the old South is facing up to the New South, is one that is very much worth taking.
The little town of Sycamore struck her as something out of a fairy tale in its smallness, in its cluster of businesses along Main Street, its small c
The little town of Sycamore struck her as something out of a fairy tale in its smallness, in its cluster of businesses along Main Street, its small college on one side, her new high school on the other. Though it seemed to emit a gentle sigh, a sleepy breath, she thought not of sweetness but of Frankenstein: “By the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open.”
The girl, missing since 1991, has been found, well, her bones anyway. Her vanishing and the subsequent impact on friends, family, and the community is the core of Bryn Chancellor’s brilliant first novel, Sycamore. Reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge, Sycamore paints a portrait of a place, looks at the people who make up the town, and leads us through the mystery of what happened when seventeen-year-old Jess Winters went missing. The narrative skips back and forth between the now of 2009 and the then of 1991, when Jess vanished.
Bryn Chancellor - from her site - photo by Rick Wiley
Jessica and her mother, Maud, late from the departure of Mister Winters for younger climes, arrive in town looking to begin again, well Maud mostly, as Jess has not really had her first shot at life yet. Laura Drennan, on her own again, also late of a failed union, has taken a gig teaching at the local college.
As Laura watched the Padres lose to the Giants again and picked at the dirt under her fingernails, it dawned on her that she and her parents were on a parallel path. All starting over. Except, of course, her parents’ do-over was part of a long-held plan—their fortieth anniversary was in two months. Hers was an attempt at an entire split from the past. Burn the whole fucking thing down and see if she could rise from the ashes.
But Sycamore is not just a haven for the begin-agains, a Do-Over-stan spa in the desert, drawing the damaged. There are locals, generations deep, coping with their own dreams and disappointments, not necessarily in that order. Iris Overton, owner of Overton Orchards, is coping with the recent passing of her husband. Stevie Prentiss is helping run the family business instead of taking the art scholarship she so deserved, thanks to the passing of her father. Adam Newell, son of a famous artist mother, never quite had her talent, and is making a living selling real-estate instead of continuing what everyone had expected would be his family business, creating works for display at major museums, and coming up first on google searches. Esther Genoways is a caring, inspirational teacher, who finds herself alone again after her bff, a gay man, has moved west to marry a man he’d met on-line. The place could probably support an AA equivalent. I can relate, or at least I could once. “Hi. My name’s Will, and I’m starting over.” “Hi, Will.” If this is beginning to sound like a lonely hearts club, I apologize. Sycamore is so much more than that. I mean, would you take a pass on, say Anna Karenina, because it’s too sad? Speaking of Tolstoy, he famously wrote, in that very book, “All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.“ There is diversity in how the people of Sycamore face their challenges.
Really, I mean if you want to read about happy families, dig up your copy of Little Women. Nothing against things working out, but harder, more challenged personal relationships seem to make the literary fires burn brighter than the softer glow of it’s all gonna be ok. Needless to say it is not all gonna be ok in Sycamore. I mean Winters isn’t coming back. Those are her bones, aren’t they?
Bryn Chancellor sees the larger world in the small
…stories always come to me first through that seemingly small scope of the everyday. There’s an assumption, even in the language itself—ordinary vs. extraordinary—that the ordinary doesn’t have the spark, that the value lies beyond, in the extra. I like to complicate that. I don’t always know that I will find something extraordinary in the ordinary, but I always believe it’s there.
This finds its way into the story in a gripping Humanities class scene.
Ms. G showed slides of the work, pausing on a painting called The Floor Planers, which showed three shirtless men on their knees scraping a wooden floor. This was scandalous, Ms. G said, not because they were shirtless but because they were workers. The Salon did not value depictions of ordinary life, working life. In their view this was not the subject of art. “But look at that light,” Ms. G said, and she touched the screen, tracing the shine on the floors, and on the men’s muscled backs. “Shivers!” she said, holding up her arm, and Jess got them, too. “The beautiful in the ordinary,” Ms. G said, and Jess wrote it down.
The small is in the status of her characters, regular folks, for the most part, and, beautifully, in her depiction of the landscape.
I grew up in northern Arizona, in a small town turned famous town: Sedona. There, with no transit save for the tourist trolley and parents who worked full time, I walked everywhere. To and from the school bus stop… walked at a slow, rock-kicking pace, cursing people for not giving me rides…I learned that I had to flee this beautiful place, my home, before it swallowed me whole. - from the story prize blogspot interview
Chancellor may have fled her hometown, but her characters report on it’s harsh, majestic beauty. There are places like the erstwhile lake that vanished into a sinkhole one day, and seems eager to drag a bit more of the world, living and not, into its maw, (and, given the quote above, it would not seem too much a stretch to see the sinkhole that ate Sedona Sycamore as symbolic of Chancellor’s own fears of being sucked down into an inescapable dead end.) a baseball field that rings with the pings of diamond dreams, a motel with a looming backdrop that has to be holding at least some secrets, a mysterious woman who uses rocks as paint and a wheelbarrow for a brush in creating a large piece of installation art, at said erstwhile lake. There are ruts carved in the landscape from when the downpours were too great to be absorbed. There are atmospheric looming outcrops. There is the striking character of the landscape and there is the occasional ragged edge, whether composed of sandstone or flesh. There are heart fires ignited by the slightest touch, as if human skin had been soaked in sulphur and phosphrous. Some folks do get burned. There is the sere landscape with occasional oases where the verdant makes a stand, in the land and the people. There is a world of possibility, if only you dare to dream.
She’d stood on a balcony naked and watched the sunrise while her new husband slept. Watching the shimmering expanse of the Gulf, she’d thought, There’s the whole wide world, and she stretched to her tiptoes, reaching for it.
But have a care when you reach for the world. You never know what might reach back.
There is much here about home, where it is, seeking it, finding it, making it.
She walked in a land of strangers instead of in the land of her parents, her older brother and nephews, her colleagues and friends. her husband of eleven years. She walked in her alien landscape, in her ridiculous visor, and she told herself: Buck up, Drennan, you chicken shit. This ain’t summer camp.
There was one particular reference in the book that blew me away, a few lines in the humanities class, from a poem by Edna St Vincent Milay. The poignancy is gut-wrenching, suspecting what we suspect, knowing what we know. And not just for it’s significance for a seventeen year old on the cusp of becoming. Maybe even more, it reaches my wrinkled soul, inserts claws and begins to shake. But the rain is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply. I have included the poem in it’s entirety in Extra Stuff, so you can see for yourself.
Chancellor takes some chances with form, switching about from first to third person, and things like one chapter that consists of a letter from a father to his daughter, and another that offers one side of a conversation in a shop. I thought these were fun additions. The tale is told from diverse perspectives, each tale filling in pieces of others. It seems clear that the author is very comfortable with the short story format, has even won awards for her SS writing. In the way that Louise Erdrich, in The Plague of Doves, or Jennifer Haigh in Baker Towers weave together the lives of a community to tell a whole story, Chancellor has accomplished the same feat here, using the disappearance of a teen-age girl as a central pillar around which to construct the rest.
Gripes. Parental/spousal abandonment, whether through divorce, death, or greener pastures, certainly permeates this novel, maybe a bit too much. It is the desert, after all, and one should be careful about dipping that bucket into the same well too many times. Chancellor might have diversified the forms of absence with, say, a prison sentence, or an early onset dementia, a prolonged military service, being held captive by aliens, (I mean, it is the southwest), something. I am not sure all will agree about the effectiveness of the alternate story-telling modes that are employed. I liked them, though.
The author said, in the story prize interview, when asked what draws her in in a book
I’m most drawn to works that have deeply complex, original characters in whom I’m absolutely invested. My mantra is “Come on, break my heart.” I want to feel something at the end, to go through the fire. If I’m weeping at 3 a.m. when I finally close the cover, success!
She succeeds in generating that impact here. Have those hankies ready. Don’t finish this book in a public place unless you enjoy having strangers come over to ask if you are ok. This book will pull you in and keep you there until the course has been run, and you can look up once more. This desert landscape tale will leave clearly marked trails on your cheeks where salty water flowed. Chancellor’s first novel is heartfelt and powerful, human and universal. One can only hope that where Sycamore has now been planted, in the years ahead, a mighty forest of such beautiful novels will grow.
Review Posted - January 27, 2017
Publication - May 9, 2017
Links to the author’s personal, and Twitter pages. She has sworn off FB for now as an impediment to actual writing.
“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten, and what arms have lain Under my head till morning; but the rain Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply, And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain For unremembered lads that not again Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: I cannot say what loves have come and gone, I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more.