Sunday, April 01, 2007

Some Jeffrey Lent Stuff


I've got two Jeffrey Lent related pieces of information. First is a very early, very positive STARRED review from Publishers Weekly for his forthcoming novel, A Peculiar Grace. It doesn't come out until late July, but they obviously wanted to go on record first. Here's what they said...

Family-fracturing secrets are at the heart of Lent's luminous third novel, a transcendent story about the healing power of love and art. Two decades after an intense romance curdled, hermetic Hewitt Pearce is living in his familys rural Vermont home, firing up his tractor for the occasional two-mile trip to the village, sometimes hiding in his hay barn, and producing prized custom ironwork when the spirit moves him. Upheaval arrives in the form of Jessica, a psychologically troubled waif with mysterious connections to Hewitt's late artist father. Then Hewitt learns that Emily, the girl he loved years earlier and whose life he has tracked from afar, is now a widow. Evocative flashbacks reveal his family's turbulent history, including Hewitt's days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll on a commune and his dark period of "death-by-whisky drinking" after breaking up with Emily. This sympathetic depiction of a decent man wrestling with his demons while deciding whether to revive an old love or open himself to a new lover is less visceral than Lent's astonishing debut, In the Fall, and less gritty than his second novel, Lost Nation, but it's no less magisterial and every bit as beautifully written.

Not bad. Okay, the other thing is that Jeffrey offered a blurb for Acacia. I'm thrilled about this. Jeffrey has blurbed my books before, so that part of it isn't new. But I wasn't sure at all what he'd think of Acacia: The War with the Mein. He's a highly literary writer, and his reading tastes are mostly in that area. But he read the novel with an open mind and liked it enough that he didn't mind saying so publicly. Here's what he said...

It's the rare novel indeed that overwhelms and absorbs us to the point that we live fully within it. I read Acacia in four long wondrous days, unable to leave the book. Durham has created a world so familiar and distant at once that the reader is transported and transfixed- the braiding together of this world through numerable plotlines is effortlessly accomplished and compelling with magnificent prose that illuminates crisply and cinematically. Acacia is full of wonders, brought to us by a masterful writer, a wizard of mind and place.

Cool.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Constance said...

All these wonderful reviews, you must be so excited, David. Congratulations! Of course, between Scott and all these great reviews, it's making it very hard to keep my fingers off the Acacia ARC. It taunts me from the end of my kitchen table.

I may have to give in to temptation....

7:10 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Constance,

Perhaps you should lock that thing up somewhere. You've got a shed, yes? Although, if you want to visit the Known World soon please do. Typos aside, the book is the book, even in ARC form.

I did have a slip up pointed out to me by someone who interviewed me recently. There's a strange moment when Maeander makes a freaky, sudden appearance in a scene that he's not otherwise in. It's on a boat too, in the middle of the ocean. Quite a trick that he popped in like that. So there’s a moment of magic that won’t be in the finished book!

10:50 PM  
Blogger Constance said...

I could just put it on The Bookshelf Of No Return with my research books. Then it would disappear when I wanted it, like all good research books. Nah. As soon as I get our poetry chapbook to the printer this week, I plan on at least taking a peek at Acacia. Too many good reviews making me antsy.

Hey, at least your Maeander didn't reappear from the dead. Resurrection might be a tough one to explain away. :)

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Drew said...

David,

Wow, good rvws all the way around. Very excited for ACACIA, as all the hype around it is making the wait even harder.

Too, thanks for the Jeffrey Lent stuff. Man, I love him, he's such a great author and there's not a log of stuff out there on him. Did you guys meet at that Mississppi Broadcasting taping?

And, too, not to be a shameless self promoter, but got a new short up at my web page, "The Crossing"

Keep those good rvws coming!

7:57 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hey Drew,

Shameless self promotion is just fine. I can't say that I'll be able to read it soon, if only because I'm teaching in two different programs and feeling a bit swamped. But I've checked out your blog and I know you're a serious writer. I'll keep checking, but also feel free to keep me updated when you have news.

I'd actually met Jeffrey before that Mississippi program. I went to a reading of his back in late 2000, when he was just finishing up his tour for In The Fall. It was one of those deals where I'd read his book, loved it, but just wasn't sure the two/three hour drive up to hear him read at a small event in Vermont was worth it...

Glad to say I decided I had to do it. Got in the car and made the drive, listened to him read and then went up to get my copy of his book signed. And... Since that much had went well I pulled the arc copy of Gabriel's Story out and offered it to him. He graciously accepted it, and better yet he went on to read it and like it. He's supported my writing ever since.

Needless to say, I'm glad I made that trip.

2:51 PM  

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