LIKE TREES, WALKING examines an old tale in the New South. Based on the true story of the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama, the novel follows the lives of Paul and Roy Deacon, teenagers and childhood friends of Michael Donald, as they cope with the aftermath of his hanging. It is Paul Deacon who discovers the body, and the experience leaves him forever changed.
The Deacons have operated a funeral home in the city for over 100 years. When the family is asked to conduct the services for Michael, Roy Deacon must examine whether a life in the family tradition is where he belongs.
The story explores the vivid history and landscape of the Gulf Coast community and takes readers down the wooden–bricked streets of turn of the century Mobile with its Spanish architecture and its tree–lined avenues that host the annual Mardi Gras parades.
Readers experience the complexities of the American South–the beauty of the landscape mixed with the ugliness of its racial history–as the characters cope with a tragic chapter in the unfolding story of the New South.
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Ravi Howard won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel Like Trees, Walking. He was also a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts. As a sports producer with NFL Films, he won an Emmy for his work on Inside the NFL.From Publishers Weekly:
Alabama native Howard revisits a 1981 Mobile, Ala., lynching in his debut novel, an extended version of a short story he wrote that won the 2001 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award. Narrator Roy Deacon, a 17-year-old seventh-generation mortician, is pressed into service after his brother, Paul, discovers a friend's body hanging from a camphor tree. Roy prepares the body for burial while the community's most fiery leaders rally to press the police to find a better explanation for murder than "a drug deal gone wrong." Throughout the commotion, Roy maintains a remarkable calm as he approaches the end of his senior year in high school, prepares bodies and attends to a distressed Paul. Howard combines these elements to create a slow pace and a mournful mood, though heavy description and overemphasis on metaphor remind the reader that this is Howard's first novel. Justice is meted out in an epilogue, and Howard uses the facts of the case to hit home the novel's premise: that even with justice, there are some stains that will never be erased by time. (Mar.)
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