In Quakertown, award-winning author Lee Martin travels back to 1920s Texas to tell the story of a flourishing black community that was segregated from its white neighbors-and of the remarkable gardener, Little Washington Jones, who was asked to make a heartbreaking choice.
Based on a true story, Quakertown draws on the rich texture of the South-of the Pecan Creek running along the edges of the town, the spectacular and rare white lilac, and the rising racial tensions that bubble under the surface and threaten to tear neighbors apart. With rare skill and compassion, Lee Martin carves out the delicate story of two families-one white and one black-and the child whose birth brings a gift of forgiveness.
"A consistently impressive and often dazzling new novel. In his richly dramatic re-imagining of the events behind Quakertown's demise, Lee Martin has written one of the finest novels of the year." (Jabari Asim, The Washington Post)
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Lee Martin is the award-winning author of the acclaimed memoir From Our House and the short story collection The Least You Need to Know. He is the recipient of a NEA fellowship, among other awards. He completed this novel while teaching at the University of North Texas and is now associate professor of English in the graduate creative writing program at The Ohio State University.From Publishers Weekly:
Set in the neighborhood of Quakertown in a north Texas city in the 1920s, Martin's first novel (after a short story collection, The Least You Need to Know, and a memoir, From Our House) perfectly captures the quiet cicada hum of everyday life in a sleepy Southern community as well as the racial tension simmering beneath the surface. "Little" Washington Jones is a gardener of uncommon skill, able to make nearly anything grow in Denton's dry soil. What Little can't do is mend his broken town, or save his daughter, Camellia, from the heartbreak that will result from her love for the banker's son, Kizer Bell. When Little's employer, Andrew Bell, asks him to help smooth the division of Quakertown into white and black neighborhoods, Little doesn't know what to think. But Mr. Bell is a trustworthy man, and Little knows that the town will be segregated with or without him so he agrees to act as a go-between to the black community, for which he'll receive the job of caretaker for the new city garden and keep his place in the white neighborhood. But as the town divides, ugly feelings erupt, and it soon becomes clear that while Little may not lose his house, he will lose his home. For Martin, the genius is in the details a silver bead rolling across the floor, the clink of teacups rattling in the memory, the stretch of a man's neck as he leans away and the narrative acquires a fine, lace-like quality. While the characters fill somewhat basic roles, they evade stereotype by being finely drawn and compassionately understood. Unfortunately, Martin's light hand fails him toward the end, resulting in a too pat conclusion, but his gently melancholy style strikes a fine balance between literary fiction and accessible, emotion-driven storytelling.
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Book Description Prentice-Hall, 2003. Book Condition: Very Good. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Bookseller Inventory # GRP78153117