Dale Neal The Half-Life of Home

ISBN 13: 9781934081419

The Half-Life of Home

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9781934081419: The Half-Life of Home

 "The Half-Life of Home" delves into the hard choice between saving your family or losing your land. Real estate appraiser Royce Wilder is struggling to rekindle his marriage and his relationship with his estranged teenage son. He is thinking about selling the family farm -- no easy choice for a man who collects antiques because he can't forget the past haunted by a crazy woman neighbor.  But radioactive gas seeps from his birthplace, driving down prices and raising the stakes. Royce must unearth long-buried family secrets in an Appalachian community under threat in an always changing world.

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From the Author:

       For me, this book began with an old-time radio, a Sears & Roebuck Silvertone that belonged to my grandfather. It never worked in my lifetime, but twiddling its useless dial as a boy, I believed I could hear stories emitting from the ether. I've always been fascinated by the past, those photo albums filled with rank strangers who your family members insist are related to you. Who were they? How did they live? Did they think like you do? The book is about digging into family secrets, not knowing what you might discover. That same radio shows up early in the novel, catching Royce Wilder's eye, as a way to connect with his father and his own childhood.       Mountaineers have been forced off their land since the Cherokees were herded along the Trail of Tears. Homesteaders were forced out by the fed- eral government in the 1930s to make way for hydroelectric dams. After the war, they left their farms to find jobs in Piedmont cotton mills or car factories up north. As a cub reporter in the '80s, I covered hearings where federal bureaucrats earnestly debated turning remote mountain coves into a national nuclear repository. That image haunted me: what if radioactivity leaking out of these ancient mountains forced people off their land?        What Royce discovers: You always have to choose the future over the past. Like Royce's mother, Ruth, says, "the past is junk." The world as we know it is always ending. Without change, without choice, there is no drama, no novel. But writing out of those memories, creating people who live and breathe on the page is a way to hold clearly to that past.

From the Back Cover:

Standing your ground is hard when you can't trust what's underfoot.    Sorting what's true and what's only wished is even harder in a place like Beaverdam, where stories sprout faster than grass on a new grave.
     Beaverdam's children heard tell of the Witch Woman who lived in a ruined cabin, who would cuss you or worse if you dared knock on her door. They were warned of the Snakebit Girl, how the rattler's fangs struck her pudgy hand reaching into the nest for the hen's eggs. Rather than tell a soul of her plight, she swelled with poisoned pride, and for her silence she was buried in the sloping graveyard. They knew of the Failed Farmer who lost all in the last depression of the nineteenth century. He sold off his plow horse, but still found necessity for the useless halter: his body was found hanging from a rafter in his empty barn.
But the oldest story was of a curse that lay on the land itself. The first whites who crossed the gap encountered no Indians, but the occasional arrowhead could be unearthed in the black fields by the creek, once dammed by the creatures who lent the cove its name. Besides those napped flints, those first hunters had left behind a legend...

"This profoundly moving, elegiac novel gives full voice to a lost place and, in its way, a lost culture. "The Half-Life of Home" is a book readers will find hard to forget." --Ron Rash, author of Serenaand The Cove

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Neal, Dale
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