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Cicada [Kindle Edition]

Laing J. Eric
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
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Book Description

A family and community become swept-up in a tempest of violence and tragedy.

After John Sayre starts slipping off at odd hours from the family farm, his wife Frances begins to suspect that he’s joined a newly-revived chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. By the time their young son discovers the corpse of a lynched black man along the side of a nearby dirt road, Frances Sayre has had enough. But John hasn’t joined the ranks of the murderous KKK as his wife fears. Just the same, John’s secret has the potential to destroy their marriage, if not so much more.

What comes to pass over those heated days of summer, none on any side could have imagined, or wanted.

Kirkus Reviews named CICADA among 2012′s new and notable, calling it a beautifully crafted tale with well-drawn characters, adding, “Be sure to read this steamy Southern noir in the AC.”

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews named CICADA among 2012′s new and notable, calling it a beautifully crafted tale with well-drawn characters, adding, “Be sure to read this steamy Southern noir in the AC.”


Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012

Product Details

  • File Size: 399 KB
  • Print Length: 262 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1468022504
  • Publisher: J. Eric Laing (April 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007V8IFU6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,870 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
J. Eric Laing's debut novel, Cicada is a remarkable story of love, hardship, guilt and racial tension in America's deep south. It is a page-turner from the opening scene all the way to the end. In the opening scene, farmer John Sayre sits in his truck with the barrel of a gun in his mouth. Should he kill himself or shouldn't he? The scene is so cinematic that I could taste the oil and feel the metal of the gun barrel in my own mouth. One reviewer calls the book a "tense Southern Gothic page-turner", which it is. Another says it reminded him of William Faulkner, one of the best writers around sixty years ago. It reminds me of Faulkner as well, yet it is far more. It is so real that I could hear the whir of the cicadas and feel the oppressive summer heat.

It is the story of a man who is guilt-ridden over his older brother's death when they were schoolboys. It is the story of racial conflicts in a changing South, where some of the local Good Old Boys are active in the Klan and lynch a local black man "to teach them folks a lesson." it is a scene so chilling that I still see and feel it. It is the story of changes in a small Southern town where traditions die hard. It is a story about a man's love for his young son and his wife, and the affair he has with Cicada, a beautiful young black woman. Cicada will run you through the gamut of emotion, lifting you up and sometimes causing you to burst into tears. it is the story of heartbreak and, justice and, ultimately, forgiveness told by a master storyteller.

I see it as a major motion picture, a blockbuster of a movie that will linger. I hope Cicada receives all the attention it so richly deserves. I understand the author has several more novels somewhere in the pipeline. If they're anywhere close to being as good as this one, we're seeing the birth of a major American writer.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense Southern Gothic page-turner January 23, 2012
By zentao
As difficult to pigeon-hole as to put down, J. Eric Laing's novel of damaged souls and bigotry colliding head-on in the stifling heat of a humid mid-century summer, Cicada rips through the sweat-soaked deep South like a midnight nightmare.
With characters as richly complex as any Faulkner might conjure, and scenes as mean and brutal as any Peckinpah movie, this book pulled me in from the start. Laing reveals the ingrained rot festering beneath the supposed pastoral calm of southern tradition, and the tragic consequences brought about by feral hatred for hatred's sake alone.

Written in a mesmerizing cadence, the plot moves inexorably toward a climax forged in the deeply buried past of it's major characters. Unable to avoid or change their fate, they struggle to survive even as the lowly Cicada bug struggles to escape its earthly confines and fly in the open air. But only a few succeed, the rest become food for hungry predators.
Full of pathos and unexpected reveals, with retribution, hell, and mayhem aplenty, Cicada reveals the human condition as few books dare to.
I highly recommend this book to any who value superb imagery, complex characters, and nuanced themes offering varied interpretations. Not recommended for the fragile sensibility.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written work of modern fiction July 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Cicada is a subtle, honest, penetrating account of the human condition. It's far more than a mystery or an adventure -- it's literature.

In contrast to a more straightforward story-type story, literature provides more than just immediate entertainment. It's provocative. It challenges us. It has layers that allow for analysis and interpretation. It paints the picture of a complex, authentic world where not everything makes sense instantaneously. Sometimes you have to wait for things to settle before they come clear.

One thing that makes the novel so authentic and enjoyable is that, throughout, the natural world is contrasted with the human. The remarkable mockingbird, says the author, appears anything but remarkable -- sort of like the grave digger, Dennis Hart, who is a highly-decorated Navy veteran, but not a single soul knows it. Or consider the perplexing role of cicadas in the grand scheme of things and compare that to the character Cicada Anderson.

This is also a book with an inexorable point of view. In the natural world, the innocent often suffer. There's always a hapless bug - a wasp, a housefly, a cicada. Will it struggle or accept its fate? And what about ill-fated humans? What causes their downfall? A failure of courage? A character flaw? Something else?

Maybe we can never know what drives human lives. Like the passage at the very end of the book, maybe all we can know is that people resemble mountains surrounded by sea. With so much below the water line, they don't even appear to be mountains.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a beautifully written, serious work of modern fiction.

(P.S. There IS a crime in this novel, but it's not, as some reviewers have noted, a crime thriller. Not even close.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and compelling! August 3, 2012
By Rhouse
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
J. Eric Laing's short novel is one of those in which you find yourself immersed not only in the story, but in the setting. Within the first pages of Cicada, Laing uses prose to paint a picture that perfectly describes the relentless heat and humidity of a small town in the deep south, making the weather almost a pivotal character in his novel.
The story captures the reader from the first page, and--like the heat--doesn't relent.

This is a story of love, labor, childhood and childhood lost. Set in the not too distant past, Lainge tells a story of a family caught in the midst of personal battles and racial tension.

I loved this book for "carrying me" to its setting and for the well developed characters Lainge shared with me. It is a thought provoking, well written story. Cicada is often funny (when dealing with the young boy Buckshot), but ultimately very serious and disturbing.

This book is one that you will keep and reread. Its characters and setting are haunting, and the book almost demands a revisit to further digest and fully appreciate them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to connect
It was a very disconnected book. I had a hard time finishing it. I don't recommend it unless you like books that have very little substance.
Published 1 month ago by Linda R. Bota
3.0 out of 5 stars Great storyline concept but tried too hard
At its beginning, this novel reminded me of To Kill A Mocking Bird. The characters were crisp and the writing was full of color and symbolism. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bill King
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow reading
Had a hard time getting into the book. Slow reading. Not the kind of book I'm use to reading. Very different.
Published 3 months ago by crisco
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable
From the shocking opening paragraphs to the very end, Cicada held me in a time vacuum. The dogs and cat went unfed, laundry stayed unironed, vacuuming was for losers. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M.J. Fahy
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and revealing.
Great book about bigotry, betrayal and love for family and your fellow man. Hard to put down. This story is great.
Published 4 months ago by Sherry V Wood
3.0 out of 5 stars resolution unnecessary
Beautiful style and narration, interesting characters; a wonderful novel for teens to experience a glimpse of the 1950's south. The final "wrapping up" wasn't necessary. Read more
Published 5 months ago by nan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tragically Compelling Novel
The writing style of the author was smooth and lyrical. The story was a heartbreaking tale of forbidden love, tortured souls, deep seated hatred, and revenge. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dara
5.0 out of 5 stars Liked it so much I read it twice
Other reviewers have compared Cicada to the works of William Faulkner. It reminded me a lot of another--lesser known--American southern writer, John Yount. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kevin Bergeron
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat unexpected
Stories of racial conflict in the south are abundant, but I have to admit this one seemed different to me. It caught me totally off guard several times. Read more
Published 8 months ago by sherrirose
5.0 out of 5 stars Spotting a future Classic
This is a book you want to own! (and read over and over). After reading "Cicada" I would put this author in the same league as William Faulkner or John Steinbeck. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Patricia Laster
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More About the Author

J. Eric Laing was born and raised in the South but now lives in New York City with his wife and their two wonderful boys.

He is the author of five novels: Cicada (general fiction), Seep (horror), The Night Watch (thriller), Scissors & Tweed (young adult), and The Crooked Man's Mile (general fiction), as well as a collection of short stories simply titled Shorts.

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