Wednesday, July 15, 2015
I was blown away by this one. The camping, hiking, hunting, tramping scenes are not subjects I'm normally fond of, but Scotton's descriptions and his ability to spin not only believable but spectacular dialogue made this one a true page turner for me.
There are heart-wrenching and poignant scenes of incredible sadness. There are heart-warming and rewarding scenes of astonishing acts of friendship. There are scenes of such devotion, love and bravery that I was often on the verge of tears.
And the prose.....Ah....the prose. It is sparse, clipped, poetic, insightful, artistic and often breathtaking. I saw every picture the writer painted as he described mountains, buildings, caves, vegetation, and most especially love, respect, hatred, cunning, greed and bigotry.
After his younger brother dies in a horrifying accident, fourteen year old Kevin and his mother come to Medgar Kentucky to spend the summer with his grandfather, hoping to help each of them mend. Here they encounter a town caught in a battle over strip-mining, leveling the surrounding mountains, and polluting the waterways. The opposition is led by a recently outed homosexual in this small-town, Bible-belted setting. Here Kevin meets Buzzy Fink, outdoorsman extraordinaire. Buzzy witnesses a horrific crime and struggles with what to do with the knowledge. On a harrowing camping trip with Grandpa, both boys learn their true strength, both moral and physical.
An adult Kevin narrates the story, giving us the benefit of his hindsight, but never lets us loose the pit-of-the-stomach moments the teenagers experience.
Definitely one of the best books of the year for me. I was so enamored, I also borrowed the audio from the public library. The narrator, Robert Petkoff, gives us the pitch perfect accents of the areas, varies the voices so the listener is never in doubt about who is speaking, and cements this debut novel in the top ranks of literary fiction for 2015. Don't miss it.
Title: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
Author: Christopher Scotton
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (2015), 480 pages;
Audio: Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged edition (January 6, 2015)
Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Genre: literary fiction
Subject: coming of age; bigotry, greed, strip-mining
Setting: rural Kentucky
Source: Public library
Posted by Tina at 12:02 AM