LIGHTNING SONG by Lewis Nordan


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 The folksy and always entertaining Nordan (The Sharpshooter Blues, 1995, etc.) returns with his latest wild ride of the imagination, this time drawing his knee-slapping laughs from the disparity between a 12-year-old boy's point of view and the adult events he witnesses one volatile summer in rural Mississippi. The summer lightning storms that strike throughout the novel not only throw everything into a new light, but also seem to inspire some down-home madness. Odd sexual doings and outpourings of desire and need are particularly amusing when seen through the eyes of Leroy Dearman, an awkward boy given to inappropriate outbursts and off-the-wall commentary. He lives on a llama farm with his parents and two younger sisters. His dad, Swami Don, crippled in one arm since youth, is otherwise solid and phlegmatic, a teetotaling, God-fearing farmer and night watchman. Leroy's mother, Elsie, though, a romantic, is easily charmed by the arrival of Don's younger brother, Harris, a flashy, handsome, heavy- drinking, trash-talking smoothy just separated from his wife for his infidelities. His cocktail hour repartee and knowledge of the greater world seduce the bored and lonely Elsie, who misunderstands Harris's compulsive flirtations. While his parents act out their domestic drama, the young Leroy discovers some harsh truths about sexuality himself, first from his uncle's stash of skin mags, then from his crush on a buxom, baton-twirling high-school girl who actually fulfills his wildest fantasy. With the household in disarray and the llamas threatened by a pack of wild dogs--Swami Don rises to the occasion. A long, wild rant reveals his true passions--for love, llamas, lightning, and family. His romantic soul reminds his wife that ``true love lasts forever.'' Hardly sentimental, Nordan's idiosyncratic fiction delights in its ragged edges--the tall tales, the wacky set pieces, the flat- out bizarre behavior. (First serial to Harper's; author tour)

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1997
ISBN: 1-56512-084-1
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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