Monday, January 31, 2005

One Foot in Eden: a Novel


Ted's Book Review of the Month:

One Foot in Eden, by Ron Rash

This is our current book selection (Litwits Book Club, San Luis Obispo Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, SL0, CA).

I think I put this one in the pot for our annual selection effort, and boy did I luck out. A haunting tale of folks living in the Appalachian Mountains ( Oconee county, in the most mountainous corner of South Carolina, located along the South Carolina border).


A tale of a farmer and his wife living a tough life on hard soil with not enough of anything except hope. The farmer caught polio as a child and (perhaps because of that event) has no live sperm.

His beautiful wife gets "sage" advice from the strange elderly woman living far back at the end of Wolf Creek: the wife should get naked in the sight of the young neighbor who works the adjacent farm and is a wild and troublesome Korean war veteran who lives with his mother and welcomes a good fight in a honk-tonk in the evening.

Sure enough, the neighbor has no problem getting the 20 yr old beautiful wife pregnant, but then as the pregnancy becomes apparent, will force the couple to split up and the young wife to become his wife.

The husband correctly infers this will never turn into a good scene, hence the murder and coverup.

The story is told in first person in successive chapters by the County Sheriff, the wife, the husband, the son, and the Deputy Sheriff.

The writing takes you into the hill country dialects and hill country superstitions of plain, hard working country folk. The sense of place lingers long after you finish this book. The characters are just as conflicted as people generally are, and just as vulnerable to tragedy.

This one gets my five star award.



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