A tinted review in adult Forecasts indicates a book that's of exceptional importance to our readers, but that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.
A father's return to the Tennessee mining town where he grew up sets off a calamitous chain of events in Marion's eloquent but somewhat disjointed debut. Gary Solomon is the troubled protagonist who comes back to Alexander City (aka Zinctown), where he left behind the pregnant mother of his child as well as a series of problematic relationships with virtually everyone in his fragmented family. Solomon quickly discovers that things haven't improved much in the decade or so since he left—his father is dying of cancer, and his son, Taft, is trying to make sense of his first serious crush on a bizarre girl named Tanya, who tries to talk him into killing her alcoholic mother. After Solomon's attempts to reconcile with the boy's mother prove problematic, he tries to restore order to his life by taking his old job with the sheriff's department. But the sadness and tragedy he sees on the job are multiplied exponentially when his brother, a violent criminal, escapes from prison and goes on a rampage. Marion is a poignant writer with a deep sense of compassion for his characters, and he captures the atmosphere of the Southern mining town and its underlying capacity for tragedy. The pacing is a bit uneven, as Marion tends to introduce dramatic events early in the story and does not connect the dots between the characters very clearly, but the combination of high-quality writing and well-drawn characters carries the day, making this a solid first novel. (Apr. 19)
Release date: 05/01/2002