Fiction David Rhodes Rock Island Line

ISBN 13: 9780060135591

Rock Island Line

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9780060135591: Rock Island Line

Raised in an idyllic Iowa town, young July Montgomery is rocked by the tragic death of his parents. Fleeing to Philadelphia, he fashions a ghostly existence in an underground train station. When a young woman appears to free him from his malaise, they return together to the Iowa heartland, where the novel soars to its heartrending climax. First published to enormous acclaim in 1975, Rock Island Line brings Rhodes's striking characterizations and unparalleled eye for the telling detail to this tale of paradise lost — and possibly regained.

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Review:

(Starred Review) Three generations feel the pull of the land in tiny Sharon Center, Iowa, yet for all the fecundity of the soil and the river, the Montgomerys do not flourish. Wilson, the town's reticent but kind grocer, lives contentedly enough with schoolteacher Della. Their son, John, seeks truth in his work as a mechanic and marries a profoundly sensual woman. John's son, July, feels safe on the axis between order and wildness. As the Montgomery saga slowly and dramatically unfurls and darkens, Rhodes is mesmerizing, his narrative style at once utterly natural and extraordinarily complex as he shifts points of view, inlays stories within stories, and brings July into the harsh light of the foreground in the wake of shocking deaths that leave him alone and inconsolable. He rises from a resourceful street urchin to a young man of promise, but there is no escaping the "death business"; July's fate is noose-shaped, and no sense can be made of it. Rhodes writes with both symphonic grandeur and down-to-earth humility in this galvanizing novel of "the quick, naked bones of survival." This is a descent into grief as resonant as James Agee's, an embrace of the heartland spirit as profound as Cather's and Marilynne Robinson's, a story that echoes Dreiser, Steinbeck, Gardner, and Bellow--and an authentically great American novel in its own right. -- Donna Seaman --Booklist, September 1, 2008

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