Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, August 10, 2012

Past the window

The wandering orphan, Pip, in the midwestern wheat fields... 
     “You feeling all right, Joe? Say, Joe—”
     The voices around the fire slid away. All Pip’s thoughts were gathered and reaped: there was nothing in his mind but Opal and the pallor of her wrist with the little blue vein flicking across—he tightened his grip and claimed her for his own.
     A surprising power burns in the demands of a boy who has seen and known too much. Her dead husband under the apple tree made no protest. Already he was nothing but bones, shreds of cloth, hair glued to a skull. The blackness of the universe, with which Pip was already acquainted, made no comment. The earth trembled slightly under his feet as a train swooped forward, ten miles off.  
     For days he had been sleepwalking along the wooden ties, feeling detached and ghostly. Suddenly the world slipped into place and was again genuine, and the connection between him and Opal glittered in the air like the lace of a quarter-million miles of steel track, the paired rails racing side-by-side over into valleys once jammed with men dreaming gold as they gouged a pickaxe into the hip of earth. Lines shot across the continent, gripping down and holding North America in her place on the shifting seas.
     “Come on,” he said, “let’s go for a walk.”

The window behind us
   Publishing's famous three-month window for a novel to show what it is going to do is now in the past for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer, 2012.) A prize winner from a university press, the book was never going to burst into the world like a pent-up waterfall. I hope instead that it will continue to sell and be read, trickling and streaming here and there.
   I have updated and tweaked the book page for the novel, adding and subtracting, hoping that this paper child will put his best face forward--that, though an orphan, he will be adopted and loved by many. Here are some bits from reviewers: "As someone who has long written reviews professionally (many newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and other periodicals), and who now begins most novels with a touch of skepticism, I was bowled over from the start by Marly Youmans' book." "It is a stunning book; both cruel and tender, dark and light, but always shot through and stitched with a powerful beauty." "Each word, each name, is made to count; each incident is telling..." "A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is a historical novel, a mystery novel, a coming of age tale, a picaresque adventure, a character study of what we might now call Asperger's Syndrome, all woven into a lyrical text that tells of both love and horror with a quiet, insistent beauty." You may find these and more here. And you may read the first chapter here

4 comments:

  1. The window is never really going to close on this novel, Marly.
    It will just open wider over time.
    I am pretty sure of this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there, Paul Tree--

    I am so glad to have a fortune teller among my friends!

    Better go spar with David R. Did you see the fb comments? Still smiling... Holes, indeed! Best holes ever... XD

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think Paul's right about this. People are going to read this book for a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. One can hope. Meanwhile the paper/digital child totters off into the world.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.