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In a sensitively written first novel, University of Georgia professor Leamon parallels the coming-of-age of his young narrator during the 1950's with the growth of Atlanta--a place where ""everything became an anachronism almost as soon as it came into existence."" ""It wasn't only World War II, but also another more distant war and the reconstruction that followed it, that had created the city I was born into,"" observes the unnamed protagonist of his hometown of Atlanta. As Atlanta struggles with the specter of the Old South and hastens toward the modern age, so too does her native son hurry toward adulthood. The young man's (and the city's) rite of passage is reflected in a series of vignettes that are by turns funny, endearing, and disturbing: a nun who wants to learn how to play basketball; the suicide of an elderly aunt by drowning; and a father's alcoholic ramblings. But it is the climatic death of the narrator's grandmother, Kate, that most poignantly captures the young man's feelings of being caught between two different eras--one ending and the other just beginning. Felled by a series of strokes, Kate (a woman so imbued with the history of the South that she claims to remember the Burning of Atlanta in 1864, although she wasn't born until 1878) lies dying, while round-the-clock construction of the city's first freeway proceeds just beyond her bedroom window. A nostalgic portrait of growing up in the South.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1990
Publisher: Longstreet