In 1943, at the height of World War II, the Highbridge Hellbenders of the the class-C Chattahoochee Valley League deep in Georgia acquire a 17-year-old shortstop from Oklahoma named Danny Boles. The Hellbenders snap him up because he’s too young for the draft and preternaturally talented. In Highbridge, they make him the boarding-house roommate of an enormous first baseman with the awe-inspiring skill of blasting monster home runs out of the CVL’s tumbledown ballparks. Known to his teammates as Jumbo Hank Clerval, this mysterious giant and the mute Danny Boles strike up an improbable friendship that culminates at the hot season’s end in triumph and disappointment, not to mention a host of haunting discoveries in both the simmering South and the wind-swept Aleutian Islands.
Hailed by critics as a contender for the Great American Novel laurel, Brittle Innings evokes a bygone era of worldwide conflict and homeland unity. It also convincingly links documented wartime history with the immemorial mythology of the superhero and the legendary status of baseball as the unchallenged American pastime. If you read it, you will not forget it.
What if a living specimen of Homo habilis appeared in the pecan grove of a female artist living in Georgia? What if she reached out to her ex-husband, a restaurant owner in the small town of Beulah Fork, to help her establish the creature’s precise identity? From these dramatic speculations, Michael Bishop creates a complex story spanning several years in the late 1980s and intertwining the lives of many fascinating and/or exasperating characters, including: RuthClaire Loyd, an artist tasked with an ambitious project to illustrate several species of early human progenitors; Paul Loyd, the narrator of Ancient of Days, who believes that his rekindled devotion to RuthClaire will somehow win her back; Brian Nollinger, an anthropologist at the Yerkes Primate Center, whom Paul entices into this matter with disconcerting results; Dwight “Happy” McElroy, a televangelist out of Rehobeth, Louisiana, who never passes up a chance to fund-raise, proselytize, or damn; A. P. Blair, a world-famous paleontologist and authority on human evolution, who at first believes that RuthClaire’s “hominid” is an inept hoax; and Adam Montaraz, the habiline himself, a bipedal fossil whom RuthClaire has christened and whom she dares to take into her home.
Over the course of Ancient of Days, these characters and others work out their loves and conflicts across a variety of backdrops—from rural Georgia to the bistros and back alleys of Atlanta, all the way to the forests and caves of antique Montaraz, an enigmatic island under the dictatorial sway of “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti. A rare combination of science fiction, noir mystery, and comedy of manners, Ancient of Days will involve and challenge you as have few other novels.
Mary Stevenson Crye, a recently widowed young mother known as Stevie to her family and friends, lives in a small Georgia community with her two children and a balky PDE Exceleriter. As a free-lance writer, she depends upon this last-named device, once a state-of-the-art variety of typewriter, to create income for the maintenance of her small clan.
Then the PDE Exceleriter goes noisily on the fritz, and so many other things begin to go wrong as a result -- from her meeting with a weird young typewriter repairman named Seaton Benecke and Seaton's creepy pet, a capuchin monkey named 'Crets . . . to her "repaired" machine's insistence on typing segments of her everyday life as she either lives or hallucinates it to . . .
Simply let it be known that the horror of Stevie's husband's death from cancer, of her concern for the sexual angst of her son Teddy, and of her doomed but persistent struggle to solve all her problems via her literary calling lead her to the doorstep of a fortuneteller, Sister Celestial, and on to even more remarkable descents into Southern Gothic darkness.
A novel of the American south, an alternately tender and scathing parody of twentieth-century horror novels, and an involving account of one woman's battle to maintain her sanity, Who Made Stevie Crye? will unleash a gamut of reactions from any attentive reader . . . from laughter to disquiet to outrage to incredulity. Back in print again on the thirtieth anniversary of its original publication, this novel awaits new readers to frighten, bemuse, scandalize, and delight. Why not join, or rejoin, them?