The most powerful novel I have read this year is Carolyn Wall’s Sweeping Up Glass.
Currently published by Poisoned Pen Press (hardback), with Random House picking it up and releasing it in paperback, August 2009.
ISBN-10: 1-59058-512-7 (1590585127) Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 978-0-385-34303-9 (0-385-34303-5) Random House (paperback)
Sweeping Up Glass is set in 1938 Kentucky, dirt poor times and determined folks barely hanging on. Olivia Harker lives with her abandoned grandson, and her crazy mom Ida, who inhabits the shack out behind their tiny country store. Olivia has her own mothering issues, her daughter has left her and her son behind. Will’m is the only bright light in Olivia’s life. This is a tale of poverty, race, love lost and found, failed relationships, and somewhere in it all the possibility of hope.
The most poignant parts of the novel are the interplay of race relations as it affects the characters particularly Olivia during her childhood and latter the decisions she must make. What we see and fail to see determined by the color of our skin. The catalyst for the story is the needless slaughter of the silver faced wolves and the mirroring of cruelty of man against man.
The story is a strong one, but in my opinion what makes this an outstanding debut novel are the characters. Olivia and Ida, Will’m and Pap, Junk and Love Alice, and the Cott’ners filled with hate. The ending will startle you, jar you, and hold you spell bound through the final chapters. I won’t spoil any of it for you.
First, start with Tracy Letts’ Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play, August: Osage County, a dysfunctional family complete with dinner. Very Thanksgiving.
Next to keep the family theme going, Billie Letts, Tracy’s mom, has a new book, Made in the U.S.A.
Looking forward to Carolyn Wall’s Sweeping Up Glass.
And for dessert Carolyn Hart’s Ghost at Work, a new series, a new heroine.
Five for dinner, you do have to spend some time with relatives and turkey. Happy HOLIDAY.