Crossing Bully Creek (Milkweed National Fiction Prize)

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9781571310538: Crossing Bully Creek (Milkweed National Fiction Prize)

In Crossing Bully Creek, acclaimed author Margaret Erhart chronicles change through generations. At the story's heart is the owner of Longbrow Plantation, Henry Detroit — now on his deathbed as the 1960s come to a close. Around him swirl servants, retainers, workers, and family, all gathered to preside over his death, and the death of life as they know it in the South. The book moves back and forth from the 1920s to the 1960s. From Henry's wife Rowena, to the servant Rutha, from his saucy granddaughter to the man running the plantation for his son, characters white and black move through a time when old traditions linger, yet begin to give way — subtly transformed through the small, determined acts.

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From Booklist:

Some scientists think humans are hard-wired to strongly prefer the familiar, however detrimental to the human condition it might be. Consequently, the end of any era is inevitably tinged with poignancy, nostalgia, and usually not a little romanticizing as relief mingles with regret. At Henry Detroit's death at the end of the 1960s, the Longbow plantation dies and with it a way of life that includes old slave shanties and lynchings. Told from the varying points of view of a series of characters whose family trees are provided, the novel presents overlapping "panels" of reality and calls into question notions of perspective as young Henry copes with the death of his baby, and his wife, Rowena, realizes it is easier to speak with him when he isn't there. Erhart's well-crafted, compelling portrait of the Deep South from the Depression to the Vietnam era swings back and forth in time, encompassing even the letters from William Tecumseh Sherman, Rowena's grandfather, to his wife, which Rowena reads for comfort as her son ships out in 1941. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review:

"Crossing Bully Creek is likely to be mentioned in the same breath with Faulkner because they share some commendable commonalities." -- The Historical Novels Review, August 2005

"Erhart’s descriptions of her characters are reminiscent of Jane Austen’s, in their devastating precision." -- Los Angeles Times

"Erhart’s style is evocative of both Faulkner and Hemingway." -- The Covey Rise

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