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Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery Paperback – September 14, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown attempts no less a task than to unravel the mystery of race in this well-crafted and moving first novel. One morning in 1965, Dr. Thomas Eagen, who is white, and Lowell and Meredith, his 12-year-old children by his dead first wife, drive away, leaving his second wife, Catherine, and their New Orleans home. But as the trio crosses Lake Pontchartrain, a portion of the causeway bridge collapses; the only casualty is Murphy Warrington, a black man who used to work for Dr. Eagen's father. After being fished from the river, Murphy becomes the catalyst for a series of revelations about Thomas's light-skinned black mother and the reasons she abandoned her husband and son when Thomas was an infant. The story is told partly by a now-adult Meredith, partly via letters from her stepmother Catherine, and partly by the injured Murphy. Brown deftly narrates his novel from various perspectives, making cogent observations about race. But the topic may be too large for this essentially slight, albeit engrossing, story of everyday betrayal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
This promising first novel, which has already garnered attention in literary circles, moves from the 1930s to the 1960s as it tells the story of a "mixed blood" family in race-conscious New Orleans.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book started out really slowly, and I thought it was going to be so boring, but it did managed to pick itself up after about 30 pages or so. I enjoyed the different narrations too, and the story that unfolded. However, the book just had an okay ending. So it started out slowly, picked up, and then fizzled at the very end (about the last 10 pages or so.)
*You can read all of my reviews at my blog, [...]*
Why not 5 stars? The beginning. I think the first 50 pages might discourage a reader who is not interested in New Orleans, first-person narrative, or murky references to characters we can't yet know. I might have begun the book with one of Catherine's letters; however, this criticism is a minor one. Consider this a novel well worth the effort. Brown's symbolism and metaphors showcase a phenomenal brain.