Sunday, January 13, 2008


LibraryThing is a place where you can catalog your books (a preview of ours lives in the right-hand margin), compare your library to other readers' libraries, display them on a virtual shelf, and generally take your bookishness to a new dimension. Recently, they have come into a small supply of advance copies from a handful of publishers to share with members, and so we snagged a copy of Hillary Jordan's debut, Mudbound.

Jordan's novel does evoke To Kill A Mockingbird in its themes of racism and intolerance, both of which are portrayed with an uncomfortable honesty; there isn't a single white character who doesn't speak differently about blacks when there are no blacks around to hear. The sexism is similarly evident; would-be farmer Henry feels as if he owns his wife, Laura, while he has a healthier (and more impassioned) give-and-take relationship with his land than he does with her.

The story, which centers on the collision of Laura, a nice city girl forced by a number of circumstances to start a family on a mud-bound farm, with a black sharecropping family, is narrated in first person, but from every character's perspective in turn. Think Bram Stoker's Dracula, told in a series of journal excerpts. Jordan makes an attempt to capture the individual narrators' dialects with varying success; the effect was unfortunately distracting, especially early on, although the artistic appeal of this approach is obvious. The plot itself starts thin but builds to an intense and gruesome climax. With a tougher editor, Hillary Jordan will grow into a force to be reckoned with.

No comments:

Post a Comment