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The Grace That Keeps This World: A Novel Paperback – July 25, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This accomplished, moving first novel (after Bailey's collection Crow Man) is about fathers and sons, tough love and compassion, the bonds of community and the solace of belief. Gary and Susan Hazen are natives of Lost Lake, a hardscrabble town in the Adirondacks, high school sweethearts who have raised their two sons on the satisfaction of living off the land. At this suspenseful narrative's outset, Susan recollects a fateful day, the start of deer hunting season, hinting that some tragedy has struck her loving but combustible family. Gary is a highly principled and respected woodsman and hunter, but his self-righteousness brings him into conflict with his sons. Both young men have secrets that will strain the family fabric, and together father and sons weave a tangle of intention and circumstance that will culminate in an act that will test their power to survive. Alternately narrated by the Hazen family and members of the community, the novel sustains an elegiac tone even as events rise to a dramatic denouement. This novel has the validity of deeply felt truths and characters who are bound and motivated by a love that arches the chasm of divergent ambitions and desires.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Gary Hazen lives with his wife and two grown sons in the Adirondacks, close to the Canadian border. They spend their days cutting trees, growing vegetables, and hunting for animals. Gary tries to keep his family together by providing for them as fathers have for centuries. Holding on to traditions and his own high standards, he expects them to do the same despite the many conflicts both internal and external affecting their lives. This exquisite novel centers around one event: opening day of deer-hunting season. An annual ritual for the Hazens, this important occasion determines how well they will eat during the harsh winter to come. When the younger son, a college student, decides not to participate in this years hunt, his father becomes enraged and hits him, prompting Kevin to move in with his pregnant girlfriend on campus. In the meantime, the newly hired environmental conservation officer is determined to catch Gary illegally bagging an extra deer. Each chapter, written from one of the Hazens viewpoints or those of other characters impacting their lives, builds up to the final tragedy as foreshadowed in the prologue. Vivid descriptions of the natural environment are abundant in this beautifully written first novel. A profoundly emotional experience, the story will hook readers.–Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307238024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307238023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. M. VINE VOICE on March 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tom Bailey's new novel about Mississippi race relations in 1944, "Cotton Song," has just been released. I hope that those who discover Bailey as a writer for the first time through that book will backtrack to this, his first novel.

"The Grace That Keeps This World" lovingly and luminously lays out the hard lives of the Hazen family who live in the middle of the Adirondack Park. Susan Hazen, wife and mother, alerts us in the prologue to unspecified tragedy that the Hazen father and his two sons will meet on the first day of deer hunting season. Then, the novel delves into the week before opening Saturday, shifting with each chapter between first-person perspectives (with one third-person exception) of family members and other residents of their rough-hewn community. Bailey portrays the reticences, the secrets, the fissures, the pride, the faith (religious and otherwise), the stubborness, and the concealed love that eddies between these characters. Twenty-first century readers are reminded that some folks still live rugged lives off the land; lives that count on the meat from antlered bucks brought down. The Hazens don't hunt for wall trophies. They don't waste a sinew of carcass. But the choice of the parents doesn't necessarily carry to the next generation. Sons Gary David and Kevin have to decide whether they will cleave to their strong-willed father's frontiersman-like expectations that his sons will work with him in their adulthood, or whether they will live more modernly and out of his shadow. The suspense builds over when and how they might declare independence. Will a huge family crack-up ensue because of "revolt" by the sons? Or will destinies and vantage points be forestalled and altered by the fateful opening day?
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By A Customer on October 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Adirondacks forester Gary Hazen believes he lives the good life with his beloved wife Susan, and their two sons twenty-four year-old Gary David and nineteen year-old Kevin because he loves the outdoors. He firmly believes his family feels the same way.

On a hunting trip in the mountain wilderness near their Upstate New York home, Gary begins to wonder if perhaps his younger son does not like the life of a woodsman. Whereas Gary David seems the heir apparent to him, college student Kevin wants to be a teacher and refuses to join them on the hunt as he promised his girlfriend he would not. Meanwhile new environmental conservation officer, Josephine Roy has warned Gary and others that she will enforce all the state hunting rules that guys like him have ignored over the years. Josephine and Gary David have a relationship, but Gary's son fears telling his dad that he is sleeping with the enemy. The potential family schism comes to a tragic head on the first day of the new hunting season.

Turning Kahil Gibran's message of parents letting their children go on its head, Tom Bailey provides an interesting family drama that is somewhat difficult to follow due to an abundance of narrators (a baker's dozen at least). The character driven story line focuses mostly on the inner tensions between the Hazens, but has sidebars narrated by others that seem out of place. Tom Bailey puts the Adirondacks setting to strong use in order to display the differences between the generations and when it concentrates on the Hazens it make for a fine tale of personal conflict.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Lost Lake (based on Long Lake, a sparsely populated area of the Adirondacks in upstate New York) is a quintessential small town. Everyone knows each other, eats at the same diner, drinks at the same pub, and prays at the same church. It is cold for most of the year and people hunt for survival. Certainly, the town attracts tourists and your occasional celebrity --- a redhead named Blaze Farley --- but there are no chain stores to be found.

At the center of this novel is the Hazen family. Gary is a logger and hunter who believes in living simply and off the land. He grew up in Lost Lake and is married to Susan, his high school sweetheart. Susan is a dutiful housekeeper and loyal to her husband and two sons, even when she disagrees with them. Gary has brought up his sons the same way he managed to train any dog he had, "with a biscuit in one hand and a switch in the other." Their younger son, Kevin, is a hotheaded college student with a girlfriend who disapproves of hunting. He also has ambitions that extend beyond Lost Lake and spars with his dad as a result. Gary David is older, gentler and more easygoing, but he too fears disappointing his father. Susan and Gary have a loving relationship, but she is clearly no match for her husband's powerful presence. Therefore, she is not able to mediate between Gary and Kevin.

The opening day of buck hunting season is in October and is the biggest day of the year at Lost Lake. It is usually already cold by then, and this year the weather forecast is predicting snow. It is a Hazen tradition for Gary to go hunting with his sons, but this year there's tension. Bailey takes the reader through a chronology of events that occur the week before opening day and the tragic events that change the Hazens' lives forever.
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