Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CATALOOCHEE, by Wayne Caldwell




Wayne Caldwell
( www.waynecaldwell.com )

Published by
Random House

Copyright 2007
Owlhead, Inc.,
Wayne Caldwell, prop.

Released as
Trade Paperback Edition

ISBN: 978-0-8129-7373-0

$15.00 USA
$17.00 Canada


When Mr. Caldwell sent me this book, I had no idea what the story itself was about, nor had I encountered Mr. Caldwell's writing before, so the style itself was a mystery. I had no idea what to expect. Then I started the book, just peeking into it a bit going down the road (having just extracted the bubble-enveloped package from our post office box with care) while my spouse drove. I read bits of it aloud to him from time to time... and it became addicting to both of us.By the time I'd gotten to the ending, I realized that I had rarely put it down -- I read it in only a couple of days. In short, I devoured it. (And I had to read more of it aloud, too. The problem would be if I wanted the spouse to drive me around again while I read books; he liked the story as much as I did.)

This is among the best Appalachian writing I've yet to read, and in fact is one of the best saga-type novels of any area that I've yet encountered. Not to say there isn't room for improvement, but then, none of us is perfect. I'm impressed with what I found as a problem much more than it is a real issue: there are a large number of characters in the book; I sometimes had trouble remembering who was who, at first. By the ending, that all changed. I was, in short, addicted.

Someday I'll have to travel through the area of the National Park that Mr. Caldwell set his novel in. I have a feeling I'd love the people there, since the people behind the characters ring true in his novel. I have a deep love of mountains and wild places, yet I too come from a region steeped in farming and closely attached to the land.

This book carries forth the music of souls, of people who set out to make a home, and did so without fear of sweat or blood shed in the doing. The concise telling of it is the kind that only comes from someone who could and did understand what the lives of the people of Cataloochee must have been like.

Generations of mountain people reside in this story. Get to know them a little through Mr Caldwell's fine novel. You may be very surprised at what you find between those pages.

Special thanks to the author, Wayne Caldwell, who provided this book for review free of charge to the independent reader.

For more book reviews, please visit The Fireside Reader at http://thefiresidereader.blogspot.com .

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