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Lime Creek: Fiction Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 14, 2011
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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From Publishers Weekly
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--Library Journal, starred review
“Lime Creek is a wonderful book, subtle in texture, rich in sorrow. I hope it gets the readers it deserves.”
--Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove
“These are beautiful stories, bravely written, and at their best, intoxicating. Word by careful word, Joe Henry shows us a world, as experienced by these Wyoming ranchers, that is both ravishing and terrible in equal measure--and hardly bounded by human experience. Though the prose brings Faulkner to mind, I found myself thinking of Lime Creek as a kind of Dubliners for Wyoming.”
--David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
“Like water, like shelter, Lime Creek is the kind of story readers not only want, but need. Joe Henry brings us an extended family of people and horses, terrible winters and beautiful land. Moving and lyrical, with a strong, honest spine, Lime Creek is a gift to readers.”
--Amy Bloom, author of Where the God of Love Hangs Out
“Spare but inordinately rich, Lime Creek will remind you of what literature is supposed to be, and do.”
—Elizabeth Berg, author of Once Upon a Time, There Was You
Top Customer Reviews
Of all the people I've met in my life, Joe is one of my five best friends. It started forty years ago, on a snow-choked dirt road outside of Aspen Colorado. My little boy and I were driving a farm tractor with a snow plow in front, playing actually, when we pulled up to Joe's cabin. We'd never before met, but that day changed everything.
The following spring, Joe found a tarpaper tack shed on the banks of the Roaring Fork River. He and I made it livable. Joe is a complex man of simple needs... complex until you breathe and listen to what he has to say. Joe still lives in this incredibly small home, inches away from the Roaring Fork. A giant of a man in a gnome's house.
Over the next thirty plus years, Joe Henry spent every night, from 10 or so till the sun rose, writing a magnificent story. Yes, every night, when he wasn't traveling to Nashville or Los Angeles to write lyrics for some of the music world's greatest performers. Every night, in a closed room no bigger than three phone booths, on a well-worn IBM Selectric typewriter. No computer. No word processor. No Internet. Just Joe sharing his heart, in a work he called Lime Creek.
He wrote not for praise, or money, but rather to share a piece of his heart with you, the reader. He does this unconditionally. If you like what he shares, fine. If you don't, that too is fine. For Joe doesn't wish to manipulate, or influence, or change you. If you find yourself changed after reading Lime Creek, that is a reflection of you and your openness to being exposed to something truly Novel. Joe may not think his work as unique, but others do. Over the 40 years I've known Joe, I don't see him as unique. He's just Joe. This said, I've never met anyone like him. Ever.
Some of the Amazon reviews ask for more of the Lime Creek story. There is more. Much more. Joe's ready, I think, to share it. This all depends on you, the reader, and you letting Random House know of your wishes.
One day, Joe Henry will be acknowledged as one of the best writers of our time. Lime Creek is just a very very small taste.
Who says so? Me. And more than a few others.
What would Joe think? He'd smile, and quickly change the subject with his question, "How are you doing?" And for the next eight hours, he'd sit and listen to your answer. Unless you need nine hours. He'd be happy with that too.
You're in the presence of a Master: Joe Henry.
First you must completely relax and have no distractions - no radio, no TV, no telephone or cell - maybe some music if you're selective. The words must be able to flow into you. The book must read you - not you read the book. And I promise you that somewhere on some page the book will grab you.
You must accept the fact that the story is a conversation, and just as you don't muddle up a dialog with a friend by vocalizing commas and quotation marks, and periods and dashes, neither will Lime Creek interrupt the flow of sending thoughts your way.
Just as you may not take a breath as you spew out word after word when getting said what you want to say to someone, Joe Henry puts his thoughts in the length they need for expression.
You need to be open to interruptions like when you're talking with someone and suddenly something catches your eye or ear and for a brief moment your concentration on what you were saying is broken by what you see or hear.
Don't expect all the answers to who, what, where, and why. You are not an investigative reporter but just someone sitting on the sidelines to appreciate and now and then interact.
There are lessons on these pages, but not necessarily ones you will recognize, let alone apply to yourself. Expect nothing - not what some other book you've read was like or what you think this one should be. Just let it converse with you, and when it becomes silent you will heave a sigh of relaxed contentment and put it on the shelf for another visit when time hangs heavy with the mundane and you want to enter a different world where you can just sit and listen.
We meet a young couple before the war in a charming tale of courtship called "Angels," and see their early life in "Family." We meet their children as young boys ("Tomatoes" and "Sleep"), emerging adolescents ("Hands", "Passages") and almost-men ("Love", "Yet Still of the Heart") who must face their own grief to grow up.
The voice is deceptively plain, authentic and western, but it offers insights that are poetic and philosophical. It's an interesting juxtaposition, leading to passages such as this:
"And besides I can't take my eyes off the candles, how wondrous a vision they are to me with their fragile light that for some reason makes me think of how aspen leaves tremble when the wind blows into them. And so perhaps if those leaves were to magically be transformed into something else, they'd become candlelight too because candlelight and aspen leaves both seem to tremble and quiver in just exactly the same way."
This is from "Sleep," a story about a community Christmas ritual that proves to be about so much more by book's end. If I have a complaint, it isn't in the writing or the characters, but in the method of revelation. So many important things are not mentioned until long after they are over.
Comparisons to Annie Proulx are inevitable since these stories share a common landscape. But Proulx focuses on the moments when life goes bad. Henry focuses on the moments when life goes right; when collisions of pain and bravery lead to beauty and joy, intertwined and "yet still of the heart."
Very highly recommended to fans of spare, poetic fiction.