cover image Long Man

Long Man

Amy Greene. Knopf, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-59343-6

Like a classical myth or a painting by Thomas Hart Benton, Greene’s second novel (after Bloodroot), set in the summer of 1936, transforms a period of cataclysmic history into a gorgeous, tragic tale filled with heroes and heroines. After the Tennessee Valley Authority builds a dam to electrify rural Appalachia, the river that folks have always called Long Man rises a little more with every turn of the page, and most of the families in the town of Yuneetah, Tenn., are long gone, scattered to other cities to take up factory jobs. In days, the hardscrabble farm fields they abandoned will be overcome by water, and Annie Clyde Dodson’s family farm, too, will end up at the bottom of the lake. Only Annie Clydewon’t leave; she’s determined to hold out so that her three-year-old daughter Gracie can inherit her ancestral land. But Gracie disappears with her dog Rusty during a terrible storm, the floodwaters rising by the hour. Only a few—the sheriff, Annie Clyde’s aunt Silver, and the mysterious drifter Amos, among them—are left to help Annie Cylde and Gracie’s dad, James, search through the tangle of sodden woods and fields already knee high in muck. Greene’s enormous talent animates the voices and landscape of East Tennessee so vividly, and creates such exquisite tension, that the reader is left as exhausted and devastated as the characters in this unforgettable story. (Feb.)