Charles F. Price The Cock's Spur

ISBN 13: 9780895872302

The Cock's Spur

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9780895872302: The Cock's Spur
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Hamby McFee dreams of leaving the valley of the Hiwassee in western North Carolina, and cockfighting is his means to that end. A renowned trainer of some of the meanest birds in the pit, he rests his hopes on the aged, much-feared Gouger, the apricot-tinted Pile-Driver, the strangely calm, lightning-quick Buttermilk.The mulatto ex-slave of the Curtis family, Hamby practices a loyalty he seldom feels. Fifteen years after the Civil War, he still inhabits the farm where he was once chattel. As Andy Curtis, the leader of the household, drifts into insanity and his once-lovely sister Rebecca withers on the vine, Hamby finds himself assuming all the responsibilities of a landowner without reaping any of the benefits. The other thread of the story involves Ves Price, the son of a close friend of the Curtis family. Hampered by a lack of good sense, Ves makes enemies in high places during his failed effort at moonshining. Then he turns informant for the Revenue and becomes more hated still.When moonshiner king Webb Darling imprisons him in his mountaintop fortress, it appears Ves is doomed. But Hamby McFee, who holds a grudge against Darling, swiftly arranges a climactic chicken fight on the king's home ground. In it, and with considerable reluctance, he will discover just how deeply his home and friends lie in his heart.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Following Hiwassee and Freedom's Altar, winner of the 1999 Sir Walter Raleigh Award honoring the best work of fiction by a North Carolinian, this novel completes a trilogy based on Price's own family's post-Civil War quest to put aside defeat and shame and reestablish a semblance of harmony and dignity in their once-idyllic mountains of western North Carolina. In 1880, 19-year-old Ves Price personifies the chaos and lawlessness of the Reconstruction Era. Unwilling to follow in his father's footsteps and become a cobbler and tenant farmer, Ves turns to moonshining, working for Webb Darling, self-proclaimed king of the moonshiners. That proving unsuccessful, he then becomes an informant for the Revenuers, alienating even his old friend Hamby McFee, a mulatto and distant cousin of the Curtis family. When Webb finds out about Ves's treachery, he holds Ves captive and tortures him. Ves has been obsessed with 25-year-old Becky Curtis, last surviving daughter of Judge Madison Curtis. Her beauty fading, Becky is burdened with caring for her surviving brother, Andy, who is inexorably sinking into insanity and frightens away Becky's suitors. Finally, confronted by her own mortality, Becky is moved to act in desperation. The last narrative thread involves ex-slave Hamby, who dreams of amassing enough money to escape and find freedom outside the valley of the Hiwassee. In a final showdown at Webb's mountaintop fortress, a cockfight leads Hamby to a profound epiphany. Lyrically written, character-rich and authentically atmospheric, the novel affords a deeply affecting insight into the aftermath of war. While this novel holds considerable regional appeal, it could prove a favorite of Civil War- oriented readers as well, with a push provided by a planned extensive tour of the Southeast by the author.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Charles F. Price
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