Marbles

Oxford Stroud, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $19.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-15-157055-3
An offbeat, wondrously idyllic coming-of-age novel, this debut is set in rural Alabama in the 1930s and '40s, where Silas O'Riley Simeon (age 10 as the story opens) transcends his segregated community. His friendship with Blue Bobiden, a black yardboy, is built on equality. Silas, who learns to fly an uncle's biplane, also befriends a flimflamming mulatto midget, a refugee from a traveling circus where he'd posed as ``Zulu, Wild Man of Zanzibar.'' The gracefully written adventure is peppered with spry humor, as when Aunt Rebecca, a pious Calvinist, is unmasked as a lush (she dies slipping into a goldfish pool) or when Silas's first attempt at lovemaking is cut short by a snooping raccoon. Hard reality intrudes when Silas goes off to WW II and his girlfriend, a preacher's daughter, turns out to be less than chaste. Stroud, who recently retired from teaching literature at Auburn University in Alabama, delineates a gallery of colorful characters who interact with one another in unpredictable ways. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-0-15-657200-2
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