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A Death on the Wolf Paperback – November 18, 2011
From the Author
Here is a review published by a reader on Goodreads. As an author, I truly cherish reviews like this, where a reader was as deeply affected in reading the story as I was in the writing of it.
A lot happened in the summer of 1969. Man first set foot on the moon. Hurricane Camille devastated large parts of the Gulf Coast states. Nelson Patrick Gody, of Bells Ferry, Mississippi, celebrated his 16th birthday and had things happen to him and around him that would change his life forever. The term "coming of age" is often overused -- but not here. This novel explores the bittersweet pleasure and agonizing distress of teen-age friendship and first love -- and the unfathomable menace of pure evil. I found the characterizations to be nothing short of astonishing. Until I read this story, I thought that only Charles Dickens had the seemingly magical gift of letting the reader, in a scant handful of words, seem actually to see the scene almost like a photograph, and of consistently presenting dialog so true to life that you'd think you were actually hearing the characters speak. Well, I now think that G. M. Frazier shares that talent, and very often to the same degree. Seldom have I encountered fictional characters who took on such vivid, three-dimensional life that, even without detailed descriptions, I felt I actually knew them. That's what happened in reading this book. Two or three times the exquisite exactness of Mr. Frazier's word choice actually left me breathless, with a "Yes! That's exactly right" reaction. The story itself is sometimes funny, often heart-rending, and just about impossible to put down. The descriptions of daily life are so bullseye perfect that time and again they took me back to my own childhood and teen years, now way over a half century past. I don't mind a bit saying that this book moved me to tears a dozen times. I hated like anything to leave some of the characters behind: I felt they were my friends by the book's end. I will definitely be reading A Death on the Wolf again. It is not apt to leave my mind -- ever. It's simply a wonder, and, I think, a great gift from a very talented writer. If you're disappointed by this book, I despair of knowing what one to suggest to you. I cannot recommend it highly enough. --Jon Rutherford
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Top customer reviews
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Although the subject of race is (very!) lightly touched on, this book is about the summer in which a 15-year old boy confronts the issues of love, loyalty, courage, friendship, and inner moral character, while leaving boyhood behind and laying the groundwork for the man he will become.
There's an epilogue, too, to tell "how things all worked out," and in this case I thought it added a nice touch.
Can't recommend this one highly enough. 4.5 / 5, IMO. A great read!
This is a well written story of a 16 year old boy's summer when he comes to find love, friendship and the appreciation of his father and aunt. Our protagonist starts the summer as a naive young man in the summer who gains maturity and understanding of the world around him in the south during the late 1960s.
Frazier is a wonderful writer...I do not say this lightly. Story developer, characterization, mood....he gives it to us all in simply evolved language. This book is a jewel and would make a great addition to Modern American Lit. classes in our nations high schools.
It contains morality without shoving it down the readers throat. A depth of friendship between a young man, his friend, his first love interest and most of all his father.
Read it because it is good, give it to an adolescent because it is good and they may learn something good about the world and themselves.
It's not easy to pinpoint what makes this book less than pleasing to an inveterate reader of literature. One problem is pacing.
Over and over, I would notice that the author was focusing on irrelevant details -- location of physical items, minor actions by the characters (getting into cars, walking here and there, putting on shoes) and would think, aha! This heightened awareness of the environment is preparing us for some sort of big event! Here comes the killer!
Almost every time, this was not the case. It was just an issue of style -- the relentless posting of details for no particular reason. At some point, I thought -- didn't the (annoying) Hemingway write like that sometimes? I looked up information on the author (Frazier) and learned that, lo, he says he was influenced by Hemingway (among others). Aha! But (though I have avoided Hemingway for years now) I think Hemingway's iterations of details were somewhat more purposeful and artful than those of this author.
I agree with those who found the material on Hurricane Camille to be a poor addition to the story. I read very quickly and very rarely skip anything in a book, but I skipped those weather reports. They did not build tension, only annoyance.
I recommend the book *Gap Creek* by Robert Morgan, if you want the Southern genre. Gap Creek is set in an earlier time, and in a grimly difficult life situation, but it is very well-written and moving.
The book captures the daily drudgery of the routine on a working farm without itself seeming boring. Owning your own wheels as a means of getting out and being independent is a priority. You depend on your neighbours in a rural setting of necessity, whether you like them or not. And then there's the issue of being responsible for a younger sibling. Given the details the writer goes into about appearance and clothing I had to check to determine that GM Frazier was a male, not a woman. By coincidence I find myself reading this novel at the same time that I'm watching Michael Burk's The Mudge Boy which in a similarly rural setting reverses the roles. Frazier handles his material in a much less awkward fashion, but then Duncan Mudge's father is anything but understanding.
The historical events worked into the storyline help ground it. If everyone had a dad like Nelson's the world would be a far better place. Throwing in Free Masonry and the Presbyterian Church helps broaden the background. The forty-year later epilogue was a nice touch.
Thank you Mr, Frazier. It is great to have discovered you and I look forward to reading more of your books.