Monday, December 9, 2013

Edisto by Padgett Powell

Edisto For years I’d heard about folks interested to get a first edition copy of this novel, so I’d assumed it was a classic. Written in the time before Goodreads, it does not have a long history of reviews there, but I trust many members have read this classic since it first came out in 1985. Republished now as an ebook under the aegis of Open Road Media, this little gem gets a new airing.

A young boy grows up in his single mother’s beachside home in South Carolina. She works all day as a professor so often leaves him to his own devices. He makes friends among the locals, his maid’s friends, and chums at the local public school. Thinking that a little encouragement from birth might make a difference in his development into a writer of repute, his mother surrounds his crib with classic literature. He is given a notebook in which to record his adventures.

Our boy, Simons (pronounced Simmons) Everson Manigault, is twelve. He has a vocabulary that belies his chronological age, but there is much about the world he still needs to learn. The mysteries of adulthood top his list.

Written in dialect and in the sketchy way of a journal, this may be a little hard to follow at first, but rewards the reader in the end. I recommend plowing through, for by the end you have entered into the language, the time, the place, and the ethos. Circling back to the start once again, you will realize how much you understood, and how much you would still like to glean from this marvelous harvest. We understand, deep in our bones, what has happened here, and how the world, truly a mystery to an adolescent who has no grasp of larger issues, appears to unfurl in all its tattered glory.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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