"...this vivid re-creation of smalltown Depression-era America enchants with its well-drawn characters, eloquent repartee, and poignant fantasia on a social experiment, which, if it didn't play out this way, should have."
-- Publishers' Weekly (read the full review)
"It's as if Woody Guthrie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had co-authored a 90000 word folk song..."
-- Lucius Shepherd
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Paul Dent, penniless and recently orphaned, hops a train in deepest Dust Bowl Oklahoma in the Spring of 1936, and winds up attached to the Federal Writers' Project, one of the least understood, shortest-lived, and most impossibly ambitious government undertakings in the history of the country. He is assigned to capture the essence of the mountain towns of eastern North Carolina for a series of travel books no one believes will ever be published. There, among writers and cheats, arsonists and Reconstructionists, blind and deaf children and disease-ridden Senators, Paul will meet the love of his life and her lover, witness the awakening of one great novelist and the possible resurrection of another, discover more than one America that could have been, and confront the truth about his relationship with his unpredictable, brilliant, and Machiavellian older brother.
There are echoes here of Laurel and Hardy, Bonnie and Clyde, Powell and Loy, Cain and Abel. It's a book of bunk, in other words. A collection of lies. A creation myth about a vanished country that may or may not have existed, and the very real, conflicted nation that has sprung from it.
The Book of Bunk is the latest unclassifiable explosion of storytelling from Glen Hirshberg, the Shirley Jackson and International Horror Guild Award winning author of American Morons, The Two Sams, and The Snowman's Children.
The Snowman's Children is a moving, psychologically intense first novel that chronicles a harrowing childhood incident and its lingering aftermath. In the mid-1970s, as a serial killer called the Snowman stalks the streets of suburban Detroit and the racial tension that had ripped the city in half a decade earlier continues to underscore every aspect of daily life, Mattie and Spencer, two exceptionally bright eleven year-old boys wage an increasingly desperate, misguided campaign to save their friend Theresa, a brilliant, cryptic, troubled young girl, from descending into terrifying mental illness. The final, grand act of that campaign has shattering effects on many lives, drives Mattie's family from their home, and ultimately lures him, seventeen years later, back to Detroit to seek out his lost friends and make one last attempt to set things right.
Though the ghostly presence of the Snowman charges these pages with angst and dread, The Snowman's Children is less about the killer or his victims than the fragile nature of childhood, the devastating fragmentation of Detroit, and the universal longing for closure, understanding, forgiveness, and the love of one's friends.
Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird in its vivid vision of childhood remembered, and infused with eerily beautiful imagery and compulsive suspense that bring to mind Smilla's Sense of Snow, The Snowman's Children marks the arrival of an important new voice in American literature.