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Portisville [Kindle Edition]

Steve Cushman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 272 pages
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Book Description

Jimmy Wills, a 34-year-old house painter living in the mountains of North Carolina, gets a telephone call from his dying father in rural north Florida. His father demands that Jimmy come home to kill him. Jimmy knows he won't do what Truman Wills has demanded, but he finds himself drawn to the place of his birth by forces he isn't quite able to name.

He discovers that the town is remarkably the same. One of his father's best friends is still the sheriff and the other is the keeper of the general store. But in the course of his three-day visit, Jimmy begins to uncover dark and disturbing secrets from the past, including the truth about the murder of his mother. Although Truman was charged with the killing, he was later acquitted, and the crime has remained unsolved.

The murdered woman still haunts the dreams of her son, who was taken away at the age of 14 and raised by an aunt in North Carolina. Jimmy has tried since then not to think too much about his father. But when Jimmy pulls up to his father's house, the two men slowly begin to reconnect, with all of the promise and tragedy that entails.

Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist in Literary Fiction, 2004

Novello Literary Award Winner, 2004

Independent Publisher’s Book Award Finalist in General Fiction, 2005

"Portisville is a gripping story of betrayal, murder and hidden secrets. A serious, small town novel brimming with gut-wrenching pathos that irresistibly compels the reader to turn the pages." —Midwest Book Review

"Add Steve Cushman to the roster of the Rough South School of literature. His novel follows in the tradition of writers like James Dickey, Harry Crews, and Larry Brown." —Greensboro News & Record

"Portisville holds the reader from the first page. An engrossing and satisfying novel... The combination of suspense and deep characterization makes Portisville a literary thriller." —The Charlotte Observer

"Cushman's prose is very clear, very this raw tale about a father and son and their shared horror." —Winston-Salem Journal

"Cushman has the right stuff and he's adopted a certain style that appeals to many readers." —Salisbury Post

"Rich with memorable characters and memorable language, Steve Cushman's Haunting novel compellingly affirms Faulkner's belief that 'the past is not dead; it's not even past.' Portisville is a striking debut." —Ron Rash, author of Serena

“Steve Cushman writes a lean, cool prose, and he uses it to tell a story crackling with reality. I'm betting that Portisville is only the first of many novels from this savvy new writer." —Josephine Humphreys, author of Rich in Love

"Taut, raw, and gritty, this tale of mysteries old and new in backwoods Florida rings with authenticity. With Portisville, Steve Cushman carves out a spot for himself alongside such Rough South writers as Larry Brown, Tim McLaurin, and Dorothy Allison." —Jerry Bledsoe, author of Bitter Blood

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steve Cushman, who spent many years in Florida, received his M.A. from Hollins University and his M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His fiction has appeared in the North American Review, 100% Pure Florida Fiction, and the Raleigh News and Observer. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Product Details

  • File Size: 527 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00457VKEO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #785,818 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with gut-wrenching pathos October 30, 2004
Portisville by Steve Cushman is a gripping story of betrayal, murder, and hidden secrets. Haunted by the murder of his mother, and a mysterious phone call from the father who has not spoken to him in years, one man must revisit the hidden horrors of his childhood and painfully uncover a terrible truth before it destroys him, what is left of his family, and perhaps others caught in its wake as well. A serious, small-town novel brimming with gut-wrenching pathos that irresistibly compels the reader to turn the pages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fathers, Mothers and Sons September 19, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I finished "Portisville" about two weeks ago and have been thinking about the book since. Now that I've mostly moved into our new house, I finally have time to review Steve Cushman's debut novel.

Let's cut to the chase - I loved reading this book.

Cushman tracks the relationships of two fathers and sons: Jimmy Wills and his father, Truman, and Darren Webster and his son, Bobby. Jimmy, a house painter living in North Carolina, has been estranged from Truman since being sent to live with an aunt after his mother's murder. Bobby has been rebelling against Darren since his mother left her drug-dealing husband. Ostensibly, this is a book about fathers and sons, but it's really about mothers and sons, and the lifetime pull that formative relation has on a boy's or man's life. Out of the blue, Jimmy receives a call from Truman ordering his son to drive back to Portisville, Fla., and kill him. Is it to end Truman's suffering from terminal cancer or is it to settle the death of Dot Wills, a crime for which Truman was tried and acquitted. After a life of small-time drug deals, Darren pulls up stakes and relocates Bobby away from where his mother has moved, destroying bobby's unrealistic hope that his mother will return to them. The two fathers and their sons converge in a satisfying ending.

Portisville is rich in detail: descriptions of land and buildings, weather and characters both major and minor. The dialogue is naturalistic (with a few exceptions regarding Bobby), relationships, motivations, and leisurely action are wholly realistic. This is a portrait of people in the new South, trying to get by, some legally, some not; love, death, personal growth and stagnation.

Again, I loved reading this book and have enjoyed thinking about it since. I highly recommend "Portisville."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Crass and crude March 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I couldn't even finish this book because I was so disgusted by the constant detailed references to bodily functions, the excessive use of profanity, the casual references to drinking and driving (as though nothing is wrong with that, totally normal and acceptable thing to do), detailed descriptions of women's anatomy, and the absolute lack of any sympathetic characters. I didn't like a single character in the book and couldn't care less what happens to them. I really don't understand all of the glowing reviews on here. I feel like those people read a different book than I did because this was really just terrible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this story January 27, 2014
By Scott C
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked this book quite a bit. It's about a father/son relationship gone awry and a son's feelings of obligation to his dying father he doesn't like very much. The father doesn't seem to care much for his son either. It's an interesting book with an odd underlying story that doesn't really go anywhere ( a college girl has been murdered near Portisville and the timing coincides with the son's visit ). This is a book written with heart, and a book that doesn't sugar-coat or have a happy ending where everything is all neat-and-tidy at the end. Worth a read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Portisville - Steve Cushman June 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed my journey through Portisville. Steve Cushman is a good writer, giving ample time to personal and landscape descriptions, just enough to grab your interest, but not too excessive making you tired. I will buy more books by Steve Cushman, and I heartily recommend Portisville.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Portisville June 13, 2013
By melody
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a good read about a man who comes back to his home town to face old tragic circumstances from his youth. The mystery of his mother's death.... however, I was disappointed by the ending.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Portisville May 27, 2013
By lilchit
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first time I've ever written a review. I'm an avid reader and read around 4 books a week. This book took forever to read. It drags on and on and on. It put me to sleep a few times. Only reason I read it till the end is to find out what happened to the missing girl. Forget it. Book ends and you still don't know what happened to her. Even for free it's not worth wasting your time reading
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great May 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked the story line but it was slow. There could have been more of a storyline with the boy. He kind of just was in the book who no real reason.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing book.
Good book. Twisting tale. Once you start it you cannot wait till you finish. Key learning is acceptance and forgiveness.
Published on February 2, 2013 by Santi
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a good book
This story had potential, but it was poorly edited which I found very distracting. Subplots were left without resolution which was disappointing. Read more
Published on January 11, 2013 by A. Haynes
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
The way the author captures the attention chapter after chapter with twists and turns in the plot simple leaves you with a book you can not put down.
Published on January 5, 2013 by tina whiting
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and complete character development
Reading this book was like being privy to the thoughts of those you care about. It was like having a private conversation with the characters. Read more
Published on December 19, 2012 by Cathy Baer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great and Compelling Story but Felt Sort of Pointless
I'm not sure what I think of this book. I know that I couldn't stop reading it, that the story was that compelling, but I find myself wondering, What was the point? Read more
Published on November 23, 2012 by W.M. C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't start reading at bedtime!
I started reading Portisville on my Kindle last night at bedtime..I really
shouldn't of done that, as I got "caught up" in the story and couldn't
quit until the very last... Read more
Published on November 17, 2012 by D. F. Parsons
5.0 out of 5 stars heart-clutching and poignant
Portisville was a poignant, thought-provoking and evocative account of a young man's struggle with his past and its continuing effect on his life. Read more
Published on September 23, 2012 by turtlewoman
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More About the Author

Steve Cushman earned his M.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the author of two novels, Portisville and Heart With Joy, as well as the short story collection, Fracture City. His poetry chapbook, Hospital Work, was published in 2013.

He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife and his son.


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