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“…overwhelmed by the world and the mess people had made of it.”
on March 19, 2016
“The Marrowbone Marble Company” is a very unexpected novel. From its mouthful of a title to the rather bland and quiet few opening pages the reader is not given a hint at the ride they are in for. The novel starts off slowly, and then unexpectedly and out of nowhere you have fallen under its spell.
The text is written in the third person with the author letting us in and out of a multitude of characters’ heads, often times from sentence to sentence. We even get into the heads of minor characters, and as a result the novel and the world created has a very well rounded feeling. It is real.
I really don’t want to get into plot devices in this review. One of the joys for me while reading it was that I had no idea what was coming next. The text is episodic and takes place mainly in West Virginia between 1941 and 1969. The civil rights struggle is a key element in the story.
A delightful moment in the novel is the chapter that deals with the first service of the “Land of Canaan Congregational Church”. It ends up being a key scene in the novel though you would never think that while reading it. The manner in which it is written is an excellent example of the strengths of the style in which the author, Glenn Taylor, alternated point of view to great effect.
Every time I picked up the novel I was absorbed and it reads astonishing quickly. For the last 60 or so pages you will be loath to set the text down.
A criticism that some have leveled at “The Marrowbone Marble Company” is that it was preachy and too political. I’m not sure that it gets political in the sense of pitting republicans against democrats. It is West Virginia in the mid twentieth century, everyone is a democrat. Rather it is about good and bad people, and they fill every spectrum of humanity. The text can get preachy, but I really did not mind. In fact, I was emotional a few times while reading, and I was not prepared to be. Yes, lines like “I think God made all people good and then some of em get taught bad.” is sentimental, but so what! It’s also true!
Throughout the novel Mr. Taylor reveals information in a manner that gives you more details about a person or situation at a time that you are not anticipating it. He does this seamlessly. It is a mark of a very good writer.
After you have finished the book, go back and reread the Prologue. You will appreciate it on a whole other level. I love books that do that.
This text was an unexpected find and a great pleasure to read. Can’t say anything better about a book than that!