A TINKER’S DAMN by Darryl Wimberley


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A moving, deeply felt story about fathers and sons, sin and redemption.

Florida’s timberlands in 1929—the setting for Tink Buchanan’s mythic struggle to recover land that once belonged to his family—now belongs to the Ogilvies, who live in the house Tink was born in. Every dollar, every nickel and dime Tink earns working his sawmill goes into the recovery fund. The focus is total, the effort unremitting. To ten-year-old Carter, his father is a figure both frightening and magnetic. Carter has seen Tink kill unhesitatingly, seen him administer the kind of eye-for-an-eye justice only possible when a man’s sense of himself borders on the divine. And yet Carter has also seen kindness emanating from his father, acts of unexpected generosity directed not only at him but at others—impoverished and beleaguered blacks, for instance, victims of the rampant racism endemic to that time and place. Carter, now grown and working for the county, loves his father, but he wants no part of his land mania. The distance between them widens even more when Julia becomes a factor—the Ogilvie daughter who cares as little about territoriality as Carter does. He hungers for her, is desperate to marry her, but the obstacles are daunting. Dave Ogilvie and Tink Buchanan are hard men, and there’s no discharge for anyone in their long, grim war. Before it’s resolved violent crimes are committed, good people die tragically, and Carter has to face the bitter implications of his own weakness. And then find the strength to forgive himself.

Wimberley turns from mysteries (A Rock and a Hard Place, 1999, etc.) to mainstream fiction with fine results: characters to empathize with, and the kind of solid, no-nonsense storytelling altogether too rare these days.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2000
ISBN: 1-878448-04-8
Page count: 350pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000


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