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Edisto: A Novel (FSG Classics) Paperback – February 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: FSG Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; New Edition edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531683
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Truly remarkable ... both as a narrative and in its extraordinary use of language. It reminds one of The Catcher in the Rye, but it's better-sharper, funnier, and more poignant -- Walker Percy A remarkable book ... there is not a line that simply slides by; each, in one way or another, turns things to a fresh and unexpected angle. There are splendid things said -- Richard Eder Los Angeles Times Sly, pungent, lyric, funny, and unlikely to be forgotten -- R. Z. Sheppard Time A tour de force ... I found myself increasingly charmed by the book's wit and impressed by its originality. Some turn of phrase, some flash of humor, some freshly observed detail, some accurately rendered perception of a child's pain or a child's amazement transfigures nearly every page. Powell's ear is acute: one of the pleasures of the book is his ability to catch the nuances of Southern speech, whether it is the malicious conversation of the Doctor's academic colleagues at a cocktail party or the genial banter of country folks at the fishing pier New York Review of Books Simons Manigault is brother to all literary adolescents-Mailer's D.J., Salinger's Holden Caufield, Joyce's Stephen Dedalus ... Edisto is a sparkling read, so full of an energetic intelligence, inventiveness, love of language, and love of people ... Padgett Powell is an extravagantly talented writer -- Ron Loewinsohn The New York Times Book Review Edisto is a startling book, full of new sights, sounds, and ways if feeling. Mr. Powell weaves wonderful tapestries from ordinary speech; his people, black and white, whether speaking to each other or past each other, tells us things that we never heard before. The book is subtle, daring, and brilliant -- Donald Barthelme Powell creates a language that captures rhythms and reflections that are at once original and true -- Peter S. Prescott Newsweek Reading Edisto fifteen to twenty years later, I reacted exactly the same way: caught in the headlights and grateful for not being run over. Line for line, the best first novel I've ever read -- Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout Wonderfully funny, with an exotic dash of Flannery O'Connor, an echo of Tennessee Williams, a faint whiff of Truman Capote, and a lot of originality People Powell's voice reminded me very much of Zelda Fitzgerald's unique and delicious turns of phrase in this deft and appealing bildungsroman -- Lesley McDowell Sunday Herald Line-for-line it's rarely less than laconically funny, and hardly a paragraph goes by without a poetic perception worthy of a latter-day Huck Finn. -- Alfred Hickling Guardian Compelling ... a coming of age tale to rank alongside those of Holden Caulfield and Huckleberry Finn. -- David Evans Independent on Sunday --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Padgett Powell’s most recent novel is Mrs. Hollingsworth’s Men. 


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
I was surprised by the depth of this book and how long the characters stuck with me.
Jeannie Forrest
It's inventive, smart, hilariously funny at times, and absolutely on fire with the author's obvious love for both his characters and his craft.
Meg Brunner
The language Mr. Powell uses is magical in that he can evoke the picture of Edisto as accurately as I remember from my visits.
David Szemborski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
than this darling jewel of a book! Having actually been on Edisto, and around Simon's age, in the early 70's, I can say PP has captured the place's essence and lyricism of the times. It is laugh-out-loud funny in places, and the characters interesting but the unique style of writing itself is so enjoyable: his economy is remarkable. For example, the only physical description of one of the main characters is this: "he was as shimmery as an islander's god, and solid as a butcher". And yet he paints so vivid a picture of the man, solely through action and dialogue. This is a warm, thoroughly entertaining, thoroughly unique story, with great writing. Full of wit and heart in equal measure. Pretty soon you'll be peppering your talk with unique words and phrases, and be up on the social cache inherent in being a "double Jenkins" in Charleston, but don't let it "hyper you out".
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Neil N. Trivedi on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Padgett Powell has succeeded where so many other authors have failed... he writes from the point of view of a young boy, Simons Manigault, with ease and skill. Many times, when a story is told from the point of view of a child, it comes off as hokey, even fake. And even if it is good, it can rarely be maintained for an entire full-length novel. Powell can do it. Simons is a classic character, young and naive, yet inquisitive to the world of crazyness around him. I heard somewhere that this might become a movie... please do not! Why ruin a great thing? Funny, poignant, and thoughtful... this book must not be passed over!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carper on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a funny and sophisticated coming-of-age story. The author has an impressive command of both dialogue and unusual and telling descriptions. Simons is a remarkable, unusual, and alive boy-man. The story sparkles with youthful enthusiasm in spite of its sophistication, and despite its irony never lapses into easy cynicism. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By robertabele@sprintmail.com on November 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
"Edisto is a truly remarkable first novel, both as a narrative and in its extrodinary use of lanquage. It reminds one of 'The Catcher In the Rye', but it's better- sharper, funnier, more poignant. - Walker Percy - On the basis of this review alone I decided to give this book a try since I am a great Fan of Percy. I agree with him that it reminds one of "The Catcher in The Rye", but where Holden Caufield is a lost sole in need of salvation, Simons Manigault is a young pillar of sanity in the midst of absurdity. I am a little surprised that Percy finds this book superior to "The Catcher in the Rye" since Simons Manigault shows no signs of seeking salvation or being as confused as Percy's own William Barrett. If you think "The Catcher in the Rye" deserves its reputation as an American Classic, and if you are a Walker Percy fan, then we have similar taste. You will love this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on July 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
... I guess. Is that a fair compromise? This title was urged upon me by a face-to-face friend whom I respect a lot; I'm willing to suppose that it's a fine book since many articulate people say so. Me, I couldn't get past page 20, though I'm willing to take the blame for being an unresponsive reader. I found the boy narrator insufferable, or rather I would have found him insufferable if I could have found him plausible. Possibly I'm just sick of the genre of atro/preco-cious adolescents with colorful dysfunctionality in their parentage. But the narrative syntax is annoyingly coy and artificial, and I have no intuition that the story will take me anywhere where I haven't been before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By d.a. rogers on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Padgett Powell has created an unforgettable character in Simons ("...it's pronounced Sim-mons. I'm a rare one-m Simons") Manigault, a 13-year-old smartass whose tenuously divorced parents want different things from him: Dad, in self-exile on Hilton Head, wants him to play baseball; Mom, a college professor the locals call The Dutchess, lets him sweat out a public school career in Edisto during the day and sneak into black roadhouses at night, all to gain "material" to become a writer. Then a mulatto process server arrives looking for the household maid's daughter, and all hell breaks loose. The maid skips and The Dutchess assigns Simons to the process server's temporary male-role-model custody. Read the rest. A great, entertaining, funny romp through the New South. Buy it or be a loser.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Meg Brunner on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simons ("You say it `Simmons.' I'm a rare one-m Simons") Everson Manigault is a 12 year-old boy who lives in Edisto, South Carolina, a sleepy little seaside town, some time in the late-60′s, I would guess. He's a boy with a vocabulary far beyond his years, having grown up with a mother (whom he calls "the Doctor") who pushed books on him before he could stand. But though he talks big, Simons is every bit as little a boy as all little boys are: as confused about the world, the people around him, girls in particular, sex in specific, and himself most especially.

One summer, a young African American man comes to the Manigault house to serve a subpoena, promptly scaring away the family maid, an elderly African American woman named Theenie who believes the man is her long-lost grandson, come to punish her for her daughter's transgressions. The Doctor sees something interesting in the man (in more ways than one, we suspect) and offers to let him stay in Theenie's cabin on the beach as long as he'll help out with Simons and teach him a few things. Simons and the man, nicknamed "Taurus," quickly become close friends. Taurus is laid-back and thoughtful, Simons a bit more on the manic side, and the two spend the summer philosophizing, hanging out at a local juke joint called "Marvins R.O. Sweet Shop & Baby Grand," and swapping lessons in the best ways to embrace life to the fullest.

This lazy, easy rowboat ride gets the tip when the Doctor's ex-husband, Simons's father ("the Progenitor"), comes back into the picture. Though the two parents fight incessantly, usually over the laissez-faire mothering techniques employed by the Doctor, it gradually becomes clear to both Simons and Taurus that a reconciliation is in the works.
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