Thursday, August 20, 2009

SWEEPING UP GLASS the hit from Carolyn Wall

By Carolyn Wall
327 pages. Delta. $14.

Carolyn Wall’s debut novel about a backward, racially segregated stretch of Kentucky in the 1930s is already causing a buzz. (It was originally published in a 2008 limited edition by Poisoned Pen Press.) Her heroine, Olivia Harker Cross, has endured enough hardships for a dozen lifetimes — a mentally ill mother, a dead father, wrecked romance, brutal poverty. She has gained a steady foothold in life when someone starts killing the Alaskan silver wolves near her mountain home. (“The long howl of a wolf rolls over me like a toothache,” Olivia relates in the book’s opening line.) Olivia is reluctantly drawn into a dark mystery about her family and her town that reaches back to her childhood, infecting the present. By the end this rich literary portrait of a woman and a place unexpectedly transforms into a surprise-filled thriller.

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