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What happened to Sarah Bullington to turn her into a crazed, half-melted, hanging-eyeballed, hatchet-wielding freak along the Elk River shores in North Alabama? Kidnapped, molested, and sold through the child slaver Georgia Tann, Sarah becomes the adopted property of James and Ella Bloodworth. Raped by James, Sarah gives birth to a baby, which Ella promptly throws down the well. Sarah rises with a hatchet. Sarah is never seen again the Hatchet Woman is born. Nightly she returns to the well.... The Hatchet Woman is the first of four novellas in this quartet of horror and humor by R. Garth. It fleshes out the life of Sarah Bullington and weaves the following sequels title characters: The Hook Man, a worker horribly disfigured at his automotive parts plant; The Animal Man, a creature spawned by the actual mating of a man with a bear; and The Freak, with psychic and mystical powers that unfold in the strange magic of Blue Springs.
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R. Garth was born in Athens, Alabama, in 1957. With a Masters degree in Education and B.A. s in English and History, R. Garth has been an English and Mythology teacher for 15 years. As the winner of the William Butler Yeats Award in 1979, R. s published works include various short stories, poetry, and anthologies, highlighted recently as a contributing writer for "Whatever Remembers Us: An Anthology of Alabama Poetry". In addition, R. has written two novels, three screenplays, and a musical. R. is the proud father of two children and lives with his wife and three cats in Alabama.Review:
Subtitled A Southern Gothic Romance, this is a quirky, funny, yet horrifying little book. It comes out of nowhere and tells the story of Sarah, an orphan girl abused by her keeper and her so-called foster family alike, who finally revolts against their cruelty when her newborn bastard baby is pitched into the well by her owner s wife. Then she takes her little axe, and like Lizzie Borden, proceeds to give the evildoers 40 whacks or more. Afterward she disappears into the swamp country along the Elk River near Blue Springs, and lives out there, a legend among the townspeople. Maimed, burnt and made ugly (her left eyeball hangs onto her cheek and stares downward, giving her a view of the ground), she befriends a talking female bear and then a hook-handed man and all of this is told with a lyrical haunting quality whose prose flows like the river water itself. You get the feeling that this really is a local legend around Blue Springs, but the author has chosen to write it up so that even the worst of us, abused and outcast, can find love. The writing is like crystal; the story bounces around from one incident to another, from the way Sarah is now to how she became that way, and finally draws to an unexpectedly gentle end for the inhabitants of Blue Springs, and justice for the deprived. There, at the very end, you find a new beginning, this time the first chapter of The Hook Man s story and the promise of things to come. If the author goes on with this series, it will be worth looking into...he has the lightest touch for allegory, in comparing road-butchered maple trees to the butchered parts in all of us, to reintroducing the legendary bears of Elk River and their strange contacts with humankind. It s like an urban legend retold to be a healing tale. Armchair Interviews says: With this book, you re in for a unique experience. --Armchair Interviews
Readers of this story will in turn be fascinated, saddened and absorbed, but never bored. Those who approach this 123-page book seeking a quick, relaxing read may find it sometimes difficult to understand and its dark side disturbing. The real seeker will, however, discover much more. Do yourself, and the author, a favor by REALLY reading the book. Before you commence turning its pages and please begin at the beginning! try to read through the eyes of your soul, your third eye. Take the blinkers off any preconceived ideas. This is not a book for Mills and Boon adherents! The Hatchet Woman s sad story reminds us that immense tragedy is usually the genesis of all scars both physical and emotional - and if we are to survive in a superficial, often uncaring and materialistic world, we must carry a hatchet to deal with them. Covering ourselves in mud can also be useful for survival. The grotesquely-hanging eyeball, ever looking downwards, sees the dirt but must aim the good eye upwards to observe the beauty of the stars. The Woman at the Well may cause us to reflect on the Bible story and Jesus admonishment to the unsympathetic crowd - let he who is without sin cast the first stone . R Garth s autobiographical snippets give us some insights into his own journey of personal discovery, his efforts of survival and eventual achievement. Those of us whose parents have died also relate to the pain he still experiences at this loss. In addition, we learn a little about his personal family relationships. Whatever decision you arrive at after digesting this book, all readers will compliment the author on his intimate writing style, his intelligence, occasional self-deprecating humor, and deep insights into the human character. I m glad he concludes the book with the words to be continued as we d like to read more Tales from Blue Springs . --E. M. Jenner
It s the funniest book I've ever read! It beat The Confederacy of Dunces! --Dr. Bebe Shaw
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Book Description Elk River Review press, 2008. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0965975185