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The Poet of Tolstoy Park: A Novel (Reader's Circle) Paperback – March 28, 2006
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"The Swans of Fifth Avenue" by Melanie Benjamin
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Sonny founded Over the Transom Bookstore in Fairhope and its annual literary conference, Southern Writers Reading. He is also founder of the non-profit Fairhope Center for Writing Arts.
The Poet of Tolstoy Park and A Sound Like Thunder, Sonny's first two books, painted a historical backdrop of the author's bayfront hometown of Fairhope, Alabama. The Poet of Tolstoy Park was set in the 1920s, and A Sound Like Thunder in the 1940s. A present day Fairhope novel, The Widow and the Tree, is a fable-istic tale of a 500-year-old oak tree presiding at the intersection of lives and emotions in Coastal Alabama. The book is based on a true story, and actual news accounts of events surrounding the intentional killing some twenty years ago of Inspiration Oak, a champion Live Oak near Magnolia Springs can still be found on the internet. The cover art for The Widow and the Tree is an original wood engraving by celebrated artist Barry Moser.
Sonny edits the anthology Stories from the Blue Moon Cafe, published now and then by MacAdam/Cage. The fifth volume in the Blue Moon Cafe series is published under the title, A Cast of Characters and Other Stories.
Sonny spent three minutes of his fifteen-minute allotment of fame when he got some press in the New York Times for wearing a seersucker suit while riding his Harley, with a front story about Henry Stuart's hundred-year old odd round house of hand-poured concrete that was the basis for his novel, The Poet of Tolstoy Park.
A children's book called Rembrandt the Rocker, which Sonny self-published, you can sometimes find on the used book market illustrated by the author. If you're in the mood for some dime-store philosophy, look among the out-of-print titles for A Yin for Change.
Sonny also composed a ghost-written biography of Clarence Darrow.
Sonny is the former editor-in-chief of Mobile, Alabama's city magazine, Mobile Bay Monthly; he also published and edited The Eastern Shore Quarterly magazine and edited Red Bluff Review. He was a reporter on his college newspaper, and co-edited The Southern Bard literary magazine at the University of South Alabama.
Sonny's training as a writer began with his first real job at 15, where he flipped burgers as a short-order cook at Woody's Drive-In in Millport, Alabama. His story-telling education continued as service station attendant, pants folder, folk singer, used car salesman, sailor and electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, tugboat deckhand, traveling used tire salesman, carpenter, building contractor, real estate salesman, purveyor of collectible automobiles, magazine editor, newspaper columnist, teacher, lecturer, and coffeehouse manager. Sonny knuckled down in there somewhere and collected a couple of college degrees, which might or might not have helped. He built a cabin on Fish River in Lower Alabama recently and is proud that he ran the wiring and the plumbing without major incident or injury.
Knowing that a writer never lets the truth stand in the way of a good story, Sonny believes he is missing some critical experience in embellishment: He has not yet made a bid for political office nor preached a tent revival--though, regarding the latter, he has always hankered to do so, choosing not to, however, under threat of divorce.
Sonny is married to Diana, and has two sons, John Luke and Dylan, and a daughter Emily.
Top Customer Reviews
This is the tale of Henry James Stuart, who when he heard that he was dying of consumption and had only a year to live, decided to leave the cold climate of Idaho for Fairhope, Alabama. His wife had died a few years before and his two sons were grown, so Henry was itching for some adventure in the last days of his life, and he also didn't want to burden his sons with having to care for him. Henry is a practical, no-nonsense, seminary-educated disciple of Tolstoy, Black Elk and Chief Seattle, albeit a quiet, unassuming man whose simple life spoke much louder than his words. In magical, luminous words, he brings to life his hilltop on Mobile Bay where, when inspired by watching a pair of Ospreys build their nest, he decides to build a circular house. In struggling to come to terms with his impending death, he instead, discovers life and how to live it.
This is a must-read and a must-own tome! I plan to read it over and over again. Thank you, Mr. Brewer, for such a magnificant work of literature!!!
Henry Stuart is quirky and independent, hermetic yet endearing, thoughtful and inclusive of others, despite his intentions otherwise. He cherishes honest and thoughtful interaction with others. He'll grant others their oddities if only they'll grant him his.
Like another lingering, sauntering work, "Cold Mountain," we know where the story is going and enjoy the telling for what it is, a poetic and reflective journey lived one day at a time, one task at a time, offered like a hymn of praise.
I savored the language and the thought, often reading a half-dozen pages and putting the book down so that I could ruminate properly, much as Stuart would do. This is one of those books in my library that I'll treasure, often running my fingers down its spine and smiling as I enjoy a moment of memory and the anticipation of reading it again.
My hat's off to Sonny Brewer for making the time to craft such a fine novel. He has brought credit to himself and Fairhope in the process. He loves words and books, writing and ideas, Fairhope and community -- that's obvious. I'm grateful that he shared so generously.
Sonny Brewer has written a beautiful story and, like a poet, has given his readers plenty to ponder.
Just wanted to say that "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" has rendered me incapable of starting another book. I finished on Saturday and have since been unable to let myself be drawn away from Henry Stuart, Tolstoy Park, and Fairhope. "The Confessions of Max Tivoli" sits on my bedside table, and though I'd been very
eager to read it, I now find I haven't the will. I want to savor your book awhile longer.
By my reckoning, such as its worth, "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" is a thing of beauty, grace, and wisdom. And humor, too. In fact, I'm puzzled that the reviews I've read, both editorial and reader reviews, fail to mention the delightful humor.
I'm even more puzzled, however, that I haven't read one review that mentions the "community" theme. That we are all connected, and that in our acknowledgment of our connectedness, and in our service to one another, we can best live a good life and thus best die, seems to me the heart of the story.
I suppose we all see in the world around us what we see in our heads, and I've just finished writing a novel in which community is a central theme, so it may be my unique perspective to see it as the heart of your book . . .
But surely Henry's conviction that humankind's hope lies not in Christianity, nor any institutionalized religion or social philosophy, Tolstoy's included, but in our Christian treatment of one another, was not an insignificant bit of character detail.
I digress.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this for my book club. The group was mixed on it- Younger members could not relate to it at all. Older members thought it was very thought provokingPublished 3 months ago by Lynn McAlister
A good read. Fairhope,ala. Made all the more interesting through the story of Henry Stewart.Published 3 months ago by PEGGY HUNT
An outstanding story that is so well-written. Henry Stuart became my best friend! Have made the trip to his house in Fairhope...read it and you'll be a better person at the end!Published 4 months ago by William R. Nation, Jr.
I received a recommendation for this book from a friend. The title was intriguing and I noted the number of 4 and 5 star reviews on the Amazon site. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Writer
Good read . We visit Fair Hope often.
Great place to visit and shop and book made it even better
I really enjoyed the language, style, historical references, poetry and his philosophy on death along with his work ethic. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Faye Green
One of my top ten books. Terrific ode to simplicity. Love the story....even made the trip to see the house, which is still standing, though it's in the middle of a parking lot.Published 13 months ago by spp
Beautiful novel, a true story of a very special man. With terminal cancer diagnosis, Henry Stuart sells his home, buys (sight unseen) a piece of land in Alabama and sets out to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Procraster