MUSIC OF THE SWAMP by Lewis Nordan

MUSIC OF THE SWAMP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In Nordan's third collection (Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair, 1983; The All-Girl Football Team, 1986)--interrelated stories about Sugar Mecklin's enchanted 11th year--spooky memento mori haunt the child's world of the town of Arrow Catcher on the Mississippi Delta. Sugar and a pal find a dead man's body in the surrounding swamp, where ``mice sing'' and a wading cow bellows in a tenor voice; then, with a folding shovel, Sugar unearths what seems to be a well-preserved female corpse in a glass coffin beneath his parents' house. He rides on a ``snail-slow freight train'' back and forth to Greenville, where the first electrocution in recent Mississippi history is scheduled to take place, and about which- -because a black man has been condemned to death--no one but Sugar seems to care. Later, Sugar's father, with the boy in tow, having dropped in at the local drugstore to pick up a hangover remedy, accidentally administers a fatal dose of morphine to his friend, the addicted druggist. Meanwhile, the same father, a sweet man who never seems able to say or do what he intends, drinks alcoholically every afternoon; and Sugar's mother, who loves both of them to distraction, sadly laments for the boy's father's drunkenness and ill luck. None of this black-humored drama is uncommon to southern fiction, but Nordan brings wit, warmth, elegance, grace, and an original, persuasive love of his hidebound, inarticulate characters to territory previously covered by Faulkner, O'Connor, and especially (A Member of the Wedding) McCullers. Not the first to get where it goes: but, even so, a wonderful and memorable collection.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-945575-76-9
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991




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