Jim the Boy

Tony Earley, Author Little Brown and Company $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-19964-3
Simple, resonant sentences and a wealth of honest feeling propel this tracing of a 10-year-old boy's coming of age in Aliceville, N.C., in the 1930s. Earley's debut novel (after his well-received collection Here We Are in Paradise) carries us, in charmingly ungangly fashion, toward its moving, final epiphanies. Quizzical, innocent Jim Glass lives on a farm with his widowed mother and three uncles, who provide companionship for the boy and offer casual wisdom on life's travails. Jim's father's sudden death at age 23 left a wake of tenderness as his legacy, so much so that Jim's mother still feels married even after his death. However, she will never speak to her father-in-law, who has spent some time in jail and is a despicable loner with a rumored penchant for illegally distilled whiskey. The stormy background Earley provides makes Jim's openness and na vet all the more haunting. The narrative develops as a series of loosely related, moving anecdotes: the tragic story behind Aliceville's name, a trip with an uncle to buy a horse that becomes a lesson in the transience of corporeal life, a race up a greased pole at a carnival that casts a new light on Jim's bonds with another boy, Jim's best friend's struggle with polio, Jim's mother's resistance to a suitor, and the introduction of electricity to Aliceville on Christmas Eve. In roundabout fashion, and in simple, often poetic prose, Earley brings his protagonist to knowledge of his identity. The dramatic and entrancing growth of this wisdom may strike some readers as overly sentimental. Nevertheless, the closure the book achieves is solid and well-earned. 7-city author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-7595-2319-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57042-905-7
Hardcover - 978-1-56895-990-0
Ebook - 978-0-7595-7408-3
Open Ebook - 978-0-7595-6316-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-316-19895-0
Open Ebook - 105 pages - 978-0-316-13599-3
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