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The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart
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Oct 17, 10

Read in October, 2010

There was a lot to like about this book. It's a hard-nosed tale of a boy's youth in early 20th century Texas. Skipping back and forth among three traumatic times of his life -- events at his birth, age fifteen, and age twenty-four, the story illuminates his family and his life. The good part is that the story is gripping, and Mr. Machlen is capable of moving it along quite smartly. The bad news is that there are times when the prose bogs down in a welter of obscure clauses; one suspects Mr. Machlen labored over them and that they are artful and symbolic, but their secrets survive determined rereading. That said, some of his images are striking, and he knows his territory. My other complaint is that several of the major events of the story strain credulity; it would have been more in keeping with the general tenor of the book if the author hadn't pushed them quite so far. But it's a good read, reminiscent in some ways of Cormac McCarthy's border trilogy
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