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Willy Slater's Lane: A Novel

Wieland, Mitch

Verlag: Southern Methodist University Press, 1996
ISBN 10: 0870744097 / ISBN 13: 9780870744099
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Titel: Willy Slater's Lane: A Novel

Verlag: Southern Methodist University Press

Erscheinungsdatum: 1996

Einband: Soft cover

Zustand: New


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Inhaltsangabe: The eccentric middle-aged Kern brothers have lived out their lives on an isolated backroad in rural Ohio, an area being surrounded by a strip-mining operation. The elder brother Harlan's mistrust of the outside world has led them to sell most of their inherited farmland and live like hermits.

Most of the novel concerns the bizarre sloth of the brothers' routine—they haven't worked since their parents died of food poisoning years before; when the living room of their house collapses into a sinkhole, they move into the kitchen; when the whole house falls into the pit, they move into a derelict school bus in the front yard.

The focus of the narrative is on the essential difference in character between the brothers. With his venom, Harlan has driven away his long-suffering yet irascible mail-order bride. The younger brother, Erban, who had tried to intervene when Harlan refused to help his wife as she lay seriously ill, nonetheless remains loyal to his sibling in spite of many abuses, and comes to seem in his sweet-natured simplicity a kind of back-country saint.

Elegantly written and contemplative, Wieland's debut novel tells the story of someone who makes a considerable success of his life, albeit in a very peculiar fashion.

Rezension: Nothing much happens in Mitch Wieland's quiet novel, Willy Slater's Lane, and yet by the end, old lives have ended and new ones begun. The main characters, Harlan Kern and his gentle brother Erban, have spent most of their 60-odd years living together in the house left to them by their parents. They are the last residents on Willy Slater's Lane. Over the years, other farmers have moved, a coal mine has stripped the land, and the house itself has fallen into such disrepair that the living room literally falls in. Yet Harlan, Erban, and Harlan's embittered wife, Elizabeth, stay on until a violent confrontation changes everything.

The first half of Willy Slater's Lane is compelling, due in great part to the angry, antisocial Harlan and to Elizabeth, a desperate woman with unexpected stores of both strength and tenderness. The novel loses power with the departure of these two midway through the story, but Mr. Wieland's simple, elegant writing remains strong and steady throughout, making this little book a pleasure to read.

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