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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Little Switzerland Books and Beans

August 30, 2019 from 3pm to 6pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author at Little Switzerland Books and Beans on Friday, August 30, from 3-5. A book signing will follow. Julia will read from her latest books A Neighborhood Changes, A Part of Me, and A Place That Was Home.See More
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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

"The introduction of my new publication, Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock will be launched on Sept 14 2019 at 1:30 PM at the Henderson County Court House 500 Main Street. A talk and a brief slide show follows with refreshments afterward. …"
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Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
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Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8

Southern crime novel sees snakes on the plain

by Rob Neufeld

 

            If you are going to immerse yourself in a Deep South small town, in 1960, follow the lead of Chris Brookhouse in his new novel, “Finn,” which begins with a funeral procession.

            Belle Spier, plantation owner’s wife, has died; and Frances Finnegan “Finn” Butler, who’d become her foster child after his parents had abandoned him years ago, is driving the three Spier daughters to the gravesite.

            The proximity of the golf course to the cemetery had once amused the late “Judge” Spier, “several of whose friends,” Finn muses, “had collapsed conveniently near the burial plots they had chosen with care, as if their spirits might gaze eternally upon those whose strokes were not, at least not yet, as fatal as their own had been.”

            The ironic sensibility of the semi-outsider in the old-family South is an intoxicating flavor in Brookhouse’s fiction.  It smacks of Leo King in Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad”; Frank Bascombe in Richard Ford’s “Independence Day”; and, most of all, Binx Bolling in Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer.”

            There are some distinctive and noteworthy features in Brookhouse’s work, “Finn” being his sixth novel, and the first offering in the “Southern Crime Series” of Safe Harbor Press.

            The crimes that take place in the town of Sprite, which one local sign effacer changes to “Spite,” are as slithery as snakes in an opened cage.  Still, in crime fiction form, the novel has to collect them up at the end.

            The town’s transgressions have a lot to do with a good ol’ boy power structure, and with sex.  You just have to accept the fact that in Tennessee Williams country, power and sex operate at a viral level.  Brookhouse is not explicit about it, but he is adamant.  A valuable folk artist’s painting of a cocky rooster keeps popping up as a coveted talisman.

            American Indian themes also keep appearing, as if Brookhouse is expiating a wide range of sins.

            Henry Broken-ground, Finn’s neighbor in a trailer park, plays many key roles, fulfills his own story arc, and is legendary.  He can actually charm snakes.

            When we reflect that the Spier mansion is called Red Sticks, we can’t help but note that that was the group name pinned on the rebellious Creeks who exemplified Indian resistance to the U.S. at its most violent level.

            The struggle for Finn—and by struggle, I don’t mean agony; he’s able to shrug as well as sleuth—leads toward decency, including the beginning of a solution to rampant racism in town.  And it all happens in 114 pages, thanks to Brookhouse’s great talent of writing sentences that throw a little extra information into each exposition.

AUTHOR APPEARANCE

Chris Brookhouse presents his novel, “Finn” (Safe Harbor Press) at Captain’s Bookshelf, 31 Page Ave., Asheville, 5:30 to 7 p.m., today, May 26.  (253-6631).  

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