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Titre : Chalktown
Éditeur : Theia (Hyperion)
Date d'édition : 2001
Reliure : Hardcover
Etat du livre : Fine
Etat de la jaquette : Fine
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : 1st Edition.
First Edition (first printing). The second novel by the author of MOTHER OF PEARL, the story of a mysterious 1960s town and its inhabitants. Fine/Fine. Signed by Haynes on the title page. N° de réf. du libraire 3512
Synopsis : From the author of the New York Times bestseller Mother of Pearl, a beautifully crafted and moving story of redemption and renewal set in 1960s Mississippi.
Melinda Haynes's "first novel of immense and staggering power" (Pat Conroy, author of Beach Music) was an unexpected sensation, chosen for Oprah's book club and selling more than half a million copies in hardcover. Now in the same devastatingly beautiful language that has won her critical and popular acclaim, Melinda Haynes returns to the country she knows so well -- the backwoods South of the 1960s -- to tell the story of a mysterious town and its inhabitants, each with their own afflictions and joys, each with their own secrets.
In sparsely populated George County, Mississippi, along a quiet dirt road lined by sharecropper houses, lies Chalktown -- a small village of folks who communicate mostly through the chalkboards hanging from their front porches. Down the road lives the Sheehand family: 16-year-old Hezekiah, his reckless sister Arena, his mentally disabled younger brother Yellababy, and their disaffected and often cruel mother, Susan Blair, whose husband has abandoned both the house and the family. One day, with Yellababy strapped to his back, Hez sets out for Chalktown, determined to plumb its mysteries, or maybe just to get away from his shabby home's oppressive atmosphere. And, on that same spring day, the family he's left behind will confront a tragedy that at once erases Hez's bitter past and paves the way for a hopeful future. Armed with a gothic and spiritual sensibility reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor, Melinda Haynes weaves her characters' lives and stories into an unforgettable tapestry of sorrow and salvation that confirms her place as one of our country's most exciting and consistently brilliant new writers.
Critique: The lifeline of Melinda Haynes's novel Chalktown is a rutted, meandering dirt road that winds its way past the murky waterways and through the one-shop towns and backwoods of George County, Mississippi. It's also a red flag to anyone looking for a good dose of surreal Southern gothic. Here is the isolated shack of a disintegrating white-trash family, there the village dwellers who communicate solely by writing notes on the chalkboards in their front yards. One character is grotesquely scarred by an adult bout with chicken pox, while others are eaten up by less identifiable diseases and appetites. Dreams are pursued, discarded, and eerily enacted, always in the sort of luscious, graphic prose you would expect from the author of Mother of Pearl.
Perhaps the term family is a misnomer for the Sheehands, a bunch of misfits drawn together by impulse and wrenched apart by hope, desire, and murder. Fairy, the philandering father camped out in an old school bus, can't extricate himself from the burden of "women and their sticky flaws." His wife, Susan-Blair, is slowly burying herself beneath other people's possessions in her makeshift consignment store, even as she neglects her children and chats it up with the ever-present Christ of her Pentecostal upbringing. No wonder 16-year-old Hezekiah sets off down the road to Chalktown in the opening pages of the novel, carrying his disabled brother in a backpack. His encounters along the way make for a Robert Altman-like series of takes on the bizarre nature of reality in George County.
The literary landscape of the Deep South is, of course, teeming with eccentric characters. Yet Haynes's are so fleshed-out that the reader is left feeling almost crowded, like (to quote Susan-Blair) a "durn closet full a somebody else's coats. Coats put there by people who went on to someplace else, some other thing." The author is no less gifted at conveying a sense of place. She uses the colorful brushstrokes of a painter--which she also happens to be--to imbue this story with a dark, sultry, and unmistakably Southern feel. The result is a captivating, consuming read. --S. Ketchum
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