Same Blood

Mermer Blakeslee, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16.95 (178p) ISBN 978-0-395-48601-6
With unerring precision, this remarkable first novel evokes the mean lives of Catskill dirt farmers: wounded cars sprouting in every yard, a gaggle of illegitimate children, often conceived incestuously, endemic drunkenness, casual adultery. The story revolves around Margaret Becker, a woman who has ``just about always cleaned houses for a living,' '' and now comes home to her three-year-old son, born out of wedlock. Managing to rise from the squalor, Margaret's strong spirit uncovers beneath the bovine exteriors of people she has known all her life an answering spirit. Margaret is that rare person who, Zen-like, takes on the essence of those she loves. Thus it is that Beulah, the farm woman who brings Margaret into her home, is cured of cancer by Margaret's formidable powers. So too, when Margaret rescues three-year-old Billy, starving, speechless and traumatized, she can unclasp the disembodied fingers of his dead mother and free the child. Yet grounding the book in the everyday world are precise details of cows calving, horses broken and trained, potatoes stored against winter frost. Little people, minor characters, pathetic survivors of illness and ignorance, come to life in Blakeslee's distinctive vernacular voice, as she dares to explore and make credible perceptions beyond our understanding. This is an impressive debut. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8041-0573-6
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