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Snakeskin Road: A Novel Paperback – July 28, 2009

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Snakeskin Road: A Novel + Birmingham, 35 Miles
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Original edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553385038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553385038
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,767,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A dystopian novel of the American South set in 2044, Braziel's latest recounts family dramas against a Mad Max–style backdrop. A tear in the ozone layer has turned the Southeast into an inhospitable desert where pregnant protagonist Jennifer is quarantined, though she's determined to escape from Alabama and join her mother in Chicago. Along the way, Jennifer endures a horrific bus crash, the sudden transformation of Birmingham into a wasteland and placement as an indentured servant at an Illinois brothel. She also becomes the reluctant guardian of Mazy, a young girl whose mother has abandoned her. Braziel paints a dark picture of a world where corpses are left unburied and slavery (based on class, not race) is a part of life, and while the novel is filled with creepy imagery—a household with encroaching desert sand finding its way indoors; the handling of poisonous snakes during a church service—it also suffers from a too-deliberate lyricism that obfuscates the narrative or devolves into hoary Southern colloquialism. There's no shortage of postapocalyptos this summer; this one unapologetically sits on the far dark end of the spectrum. (Aug.)
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“With imaginative grace and poetic intensity, James Braziel has written an apocalyptic masterpiece that will keep any reader on edge. Though filled with the grim realities and sometimes hallucinatory violence of a devastated United States, Snakeskin Road also reinforces our hope that love and compassion can survive.”—Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff

More About the Author

James Braziel is the author of the Bantam novels Birmingham, 35 Miles and Snakeskin Road. Weathervane, a chapbook of his poetry was published by Finishing Line Press. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Chattahoochee Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Clackamas Literary Review, among other journals. He has also been the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts and twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Currently, he teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Stout TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, this book happens to be a sequel to Birmingham, 35 Miles and I read this one first. I actually don't think it mattered much. I think you can read either of them first just be sure to read both of them.

There were positive points for both books. I thought "Snakeskin Road" did a much better job with the storyline and with character development. But I thought the writing in "Birmingham 35 Miles" was lyrical and captivating.

All in all, these were weird, strangely compelling books. I am glad that I read them both - for different reasons. Will I read them again? I don't see that happening. I prefer post-apocalyptic fiction with a bit more hope - for the world and for mankind.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
In 2044 recently widowed Jennifer Harrison is pregnant and desperately needs to return to her hometown Chicago where her mom lives. Currently she is in the vast desert of what was once the southeastern United States; the entire region destroyed by a hole in the Ozone layer. However to become free she needs to escape Birmingham and become an indentured servant for three years in the Midwest.

She travels up the Snakeskin Road used by human traffickers. Her bus crashes and she becomes guardian of thirteen year old Mazy. As they struggle northward on the deadly trail, Rosser the ruthless bounty hunter pursues them as no one leaves Birmingham alive. In Illinois Jennifer is indentured to a brothel where she believes she can survive three years if Rosser is not a customer.

Mindful of his own work, BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES, James Braziel paints a dark, gloomy future landscape especially the expanding desert widening like a new Ice Age that makes Mad Max look like a still life. The story line is fast-paced because anything less means unburied death for those who dawdle. Jennifer is terrific as a heroine on the run with a teen to protect; but it is Rosser who steals the show as a futuristic Tom Loker before the Quaker revelation in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Although the too many regional idioms and southern dialect anchor the locale, it detracts from the post-apocalyptic view of the journey north on SNAKESKIN ROAD; a path with no conductors, only killing traffickers and desperate escaped slaves dare venture on this lethal "Underground Railroad".

Harriet Klausner
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