Evocative...lyrical...resonant. [Y]oung Alek is sent to West Table, Missouri., to spend the summer of 1965 with his grandmother, Alma Dunahew, a hardworking maid to a wealthy local. The bad blood between Alek’s father and Alma stems from her opinion of what transpired just before the 1929 Arbor Dance Hall explosion.... Who was responsible?... From an economy of poetic prose springs forth an emotionally volcanic story of family, justice, and the everlasting power of the truth.
[T]he story of a catastrophe based on a real-life occurrence. Alek Dunahew is sent to live with his grandmother...[who is] haunted by the death of her sister, Ruby, in the explosion of the Arbor Dance Hall in 1928.... Alek is curious and listens carefully.... [T]he story is gripping and heartrending at the same time.... Woodrell confirms his place among the literary masters. —Elizabeth Dickie
Loosely based on the real-life West Plains Dance Hall Explosion of 1928, [the novel] centers on Alma DeGeer Dunahew, a maid with three children in fictional West Table, Mo. After years of bitter silence, Alma has chosen to unburden her story on her grandson, Alek....This may be a minor work for this major American writer, but no craftsman toiling away in a workshop ever fashioned his wares so carefully. A commanding fable about trespass and reconstruction from a titan of Southern fiction.
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