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A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer, 2012)

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer, 2012)

Ratings: (0)|Views: 388|Likes:
Published by Marly Youmans
2012 ForeWord Finalist
2012 The Ferrol Sams Award
Favorite Books of 2012, "Books & Culture Magazine"
Best Books of 2012, critic D. G. Myers

FLAP COPY
*
After a death at the White Camellia Orphanage, young Pip Tatnall leaves Lexsy, Georgia to become a road kid, riding the rails east, west, and north. A bright, unusual boy who is disillusioned at a young age, Pip believes that he sees guilt shining in the faces of men wherever he goes. On his picaresque journey, he sweeps through society, revealing the highest and lowest in human nature and only slowly coming to self-understanding. He searches the points of the compass for what will help, groping for a place where he can feel content, certain that he has no place where he belongs and that he rides the rails through a great darkness. His difficult path to collect enough radiance to light his way home is the road of a boy struggling to come to terms with the cruel but sometimes lovely world of Depression-era America.
*
On Youmans’s prior forays into the past, reviewers praised her “spellbinding force” (Bob Sumner, Orlando Sentinel), “prodigious powers of description” (Philip Gambone, New York Times), “serious artistry,” “unobtrusively beautiful language,” and “considerable power” (Fred Chappell, Raleigh News and Observer), “haunting, lyrical language and fierce intelligence” (starred review, Publishers Weekly.) Howard Bahr wrote of The Wolf Pit, “Ms. Youmans is an inspiration to every writer who must compete with himself. I had thought Catherwood unsurpassable, but Ms. Youmans has done it. Her characters are real; they live and move in the stream of Time as if they had passed only yesterday. Her lyricism breaks my heart and fills me with envy and delight. No other writer I know of can bring the past to us so musically, so truly.”


Winner of The Ferrol Sams Award
Ms. Youmans gives us a beautifully written and exceptionally satisfying novel with rich language and lovely turns of phrase that invite the reader to linger on every page.
*
Comments from writers
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage tells of a young boy's travels through the black heart of Depression America and his search for light both metaphorical and real. Writing with a controlled lyrical passion, Marly Youmans has crafted the finest, and the truest period novel I've read in years.
--Lucius Shepard
*
Marly Youmans' new book is a vividly realized, panoramic novel of survival during The Great Depression. There is poetry in Youmans' writing, but she also knows how to tell a riveting story.
--Ron Rash
*
In A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Marly Youmans gives us a beautifully written and exceptionally satisfying novel. The book reads as if Youmans took the best parts of The Grapes of Wrath, On the Road, The Reivers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and crafted from them a tale both magical and fine. Her rich language and lovely turns of phrase invite the reader to linger. Ironically, there is at the same time a subtle pressure throughout the novel to turn the page, because Youmans has achieved that rarest of all accomplishments: she has created a flawed hero about which we care. A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is one of the best books I have read.
--Raymond L. Atkins
2012 ForeWord Finalist
2012 The Ferrol Sams Award
Favorite Books of 2012, "Books & Culture Magazine"
Best Books of 2012, critic D. G. Myers

FLAP COPY
*
After a death at the White Camellia Orphanage, young Pip Tatnall leaves Lexsy, Georgia to become a road kid, riding the rails east, west, and north. A bright, unusual boy who is disillusioned at a young age, Pip believes that he sees guilt shining in the faces of men wherever he goes. On his picaresque journey, he sweeps through society, revealing the highest and lowest in human nature and only slowly coming to self-understanding. He searches the points of the compass for what will help, groping for a place where he can feel content, certain that he has no place where he belongs and that he rides the rails through a great darkness. His difficult path to collect enough radiance to light his way home is the road of a boy struggling to come to terms with the cruel but sometimes lovely world of Depression-era America.
*
On Youmans’s prior forays into the past, reviewers praised her “spellbinding force” (Bob Sumner, Orlando Sentinel), “prodigious powers of description” (Philip Gambone, New York Times), “serious artistry,” “unobtrusively beautiful language,” and “considerable power” (Fred Chappell, Raleigh News and Observer), “haunting, lyrical language and fierce intelligence” (starred review, Publishers Weekly.) Howard Bahr wrote of The Wolf Pit, “Ms. Youmans is an inspiration to every writer who must compete with himself. I had thought Catherwood unsurpassable, but Ms. Youmans has done it. Her characters are real; they live and move in the stream of Time as if they had passed only yesterday. Her lyricism breaks my heart and fills me with envy and delight. No other writer I know of can bring the past to us so musically, so truly.”


Winner of The Ferrol Sams Award
Ms. Youmans gives us a beautifully written and exceptionally satisfying novel with rich language and lovely turns of phrase that invite the reader to linger on every page.
*
Comments from writers
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage tells of a young boy's travels through the black heart of Depression America and his search for light both metaphorical and real. Writing with a controlled lyrical passion, Marly Youmans has crafted the finest, and the truest period novel I've read in years.
--Lucius Shepard
*
Marly Youmans' new book is a vividly realized, panoramic novel of survival during The Great Depression. There is poetry in Youmans' writing, but she also knows how to tell a riveting story.
--Ron Rash
*
In A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Marly Youmans gives us a beautifully written and exceptionally satisfying novel. The book reads as if Youmans took the best parts of The Grapes of Wrath, On the Road, The Reivers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and crafted from them a tale both magical and fine. Her rich language and lovely turns of phrase invite the reader to linger. Ironically, there is at the same time a subtle pressure throughout the novel to turn the page, because Youmans has achieved that rarest of all accomplishments: she has created a flawed hero about which we care. A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is one of the best books I have read.
--Raymond L. Atkins

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Published by: Marly Youmans on Mar 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/23/2013

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1
Death comes to White Camellia Orphanage;A savage laugh, a riddle and reply.
Pip Tattnal
 
woke in the dense warmth of an Emanuel Countysummer at 4:17 a.m., a fact that he would learn much later when he became acquainted with clocks. For the rest of his life he would jerk from sleep at that very instant, his body refusing to sleep through thestroke of darkness. He did not open his eyes. He did not need to openhis eyes. He knew where he was—the same place he had been foralmost a year. He was on the farm sharecropped by the Hooks family,although the land was always called by another man’s name as if toremind Mr. Jimmie and Miss Versie that they owned not much morethan debt and the clothes on their backs plus a spare change forSunday, a clutter of ironware and dishes, and a few clanking enamelchamber pots. For the last several years it also had been known asThe White Camellia Orphanage or The Cottage because of the doingsof Mr. Sam Truetlen, owner of a nearby cotton gin and the far-offGen’l Notions Store, who had traveled all the way to New Orleansand on to Dallas once upon a time, and there, on the outer edge of theknown world, had toured a cottage-style orphanage intended fordestitute white children and run by the Klan. Being a man prone tofits of “projecting,” he later backed his own orphanage, though mostof the children still claimed at least one parent on some played-out,ramshackle farm. Wherever his kind had sunk so desperate and lowas to scoop up the red clay to eat, Mr. Sam would arrive on muleback and plod away with one or more children riding pillion, some to stayat The Cottage for a month, some longer. It got so that people formiles around could recognize Daisy Belle, the white mule, andGoshen, the soot-gray one. As for the name of the orphanage, thatwas the influence of the Klan, with its Knights and Dragon, its
 
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
4Cyclops and Nighthawk and Kamellia—and Mr. Sam’s tip of the hatto the city of Dallas. So that was where Pip had been lodged foralmost a year, in The White Camellia.It was high, hot summer in Emanuel County, Georgia, and notone soul was saved from the day’s blaze or from the night’s smotherof warmth. Up and down the county, the only sleep was a restlesssleep, and near Lexsy, one or two old people woke in a fright becausethe air was just about too dense to breathe—their trembling handsreaching for funeral-parlor fans printed with a portrait of Christ andsome luminous, faintly green sheep—and on some gully-shatteredsharecropped place, an infant who had been fighting for air yieldedup the ghost on his mother’s naked breast. Mr. Sam, next door to thecotton gin, returned to bed and dreamed his nightly dream of beingweighed in the scales and found wanting. At The White CamelliaOrphanage, the bone-tired children slept without dreaming, all butone, who dreamed about a lost penny.When he woke, Pip knew something was off kilter. He did notknow more, neither whether the hour felt wrong or right. There was afaint slippage of coolness on his back where his half-brother Ottonormally slept. The kinship bond between them was tangible, suchthat the children seemed inseparable, a blood brotherhood ofcommingled beings. Loss and grief had only made their physicalneed and ache for each other more clearly manifest. The musky smellthat belonged to the little boy was ebbing away, and Pip could detectonly the presence of the two others in the bed and the four across theroom. The brothers always slept together, with a careful space between themselves and their bedmates, an act that demanded theycling to their perches even in sleep to avoid tumbling down into thedeep valley of the bed. Now Pip lay breathing in the scent of near-naked boys and the stink of the chamber pots. These were smells hedid not find disagreeable, just as he did not dislike the fumes ofkerosene from the lamp or the odor of Miss Versie, unwashed andmarked with a faint whiff of blood.
Where was Otto?
 
Marly Youmans
5As he slipped off the ticking, Pip felt coolness against his legs;then it was gone, absorbed into air, until his feet found a trace of it onthe floorboards. Coolness was the thinnest covering of all, so frail itwould tear and tatter under the press of a body. Although he knew itwas no use, he knelt and looked under the sway-backed iron bedsteads. Occasionally one of the orphans would climb out of bedand collapse against the floor on a hot night. But now there wasnothing but a pair of sentinels, enameled chamber pots with theirheadpieces firmly set, waiting for a child to tote them behind thekitchen house and dump the contents onto the singed ground.Ducking under a fly tape, Pip paused at the window. A length ofgauze had been tacked to the frame to make a screen, but through the billowy gaps between nails, he could peep at the world. As theconstellations vanished, piece by piece, the night was beginning toabsorb bits of light, to become subtly paler as if the stars were beingground in a mill and were shedding fine bright flour over the wholesky. He could see nothing but a gloom that must be fields of cotton,tobacco, and corn, and a distant low horizon that meant swamp andpines and a grove of wild plums, flattened under the height and heftof temperature and sky.Unhooking his overalls from a nail, he slipped them over theonce-white shorts stitched by the ladies’ circle of the EmanuelPrimitive Baptist Church. Pajamas and underwear at once, the eightsets of homemade nightclothes were meant to provide modesty to the boys in the front bedroom.Leaving his room, he crossed the parlor where the girls slept inmatching gowns, their beds only slightly less hammocky than thoseof the boys. The front door was flung wide open, and even the newscreen door provided by Mr. Sam was ajar, letting in mosquitoes,moths, and long-legged gnats. The ratcheting night song of katydidsand frogs in the creek called
come out, come out
to Pip so that hestepped to the screen and peered at the porch, barren except for theglowing moon of the enameled basin resting on a cross-slat betweentwo uprights, its big dipper dangling from a nail. Nothing more.

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Marly Youmans added this note
Chandra, thank you! And I'm so glad you ordered the book... Hope you enjoy the whole.

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