Two Brief Reviews:

MigrationMigration by David York

Migration is a quirky short story by David York.  It’s similar to a shaggy dog story you heard over and over as a child and although you know the punchline, the telling is the bigger part of the entertainment. As the story goes along, you nod to yourself knowingly.  You’ve seen this before and you think, “Stupid humans, and your little plans, thinking you are the biggest, ‘bestest’, smartest thing on the block…or in the universe.  Well, little man, you just wait until you get out there in the big, cold, cruel cosmos…you just wait.”

Well, you just keep nodding knowingly to yourself, you keep thinking to yourself you know this story, and you know how it ends.  You keep thinking that, because when the end comes, it’s not going to be where you think it is.  Not only is it not going to be where you think it is, you’re going to turn a couple of pages and realize it’s not who you think it is, what you think it is, or how you think it is.  In the end.

There are a couple of spots in the narration that could be a little clearer in terms of who is who and which ones are the good guys.  It’s also always nice to read what Americans would refer to as Britishisms in a story, as it enables the reader to see the scene through the author’s eyes.  (If you’ve ever heard someone from Philadelphia describe the North Philly slums, and a New Yorker describe Harlem, you’ll know that they are vastly different and in hearing the words you can picture the reality.)

Nice short story, something to entertain for a couple of hours.  Or one long train ride.

bible-salesman-novel-clyde-edgerton-paperback-cover-artThe Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton

I’m not sure if this novel would be considered a slice of life novel, literature or something else entirely.
It makes it hard to describe The Bible Salesman, since I’m not sure what Clyde Edgerton was reaching for.

Whatever it is, I’m not very fond of this type of literature.  I’m not really sure why, but if you give me a tale of triumph over evil or a tale of succumbing to evil, I’m good. But ask me to follow a couple of small time thieves around for a couple of months, throw in a girl (or two) and then just kind of end it (I’m not saying how it’s ended because that’s a quality part of this story.), I just have a hard time staying with it.

This is a good story. The characters are well developed, the plot is believable, although there are scenes that didn’t seem to further the narrative. I kept expecting the meaning would be revealed in the behavior of the characters, but I was somewhat disappointed.  There are some other aspects that didn’t quite mesh for me.  Was the Bible Salesman really that naive? I realize it is a necessity of the plot, but he needed to be more naive in a bunch of other ways to make this stand up…that just doesn’t happen.

There are, however, a lot of parts that I really could relate to, and that is probably what kept me coming back until I finished the book.  I am well acquainted with southern family reunions, “kissing cousins” and what not.  Holy Roller churches, Bible Drills, and Sunday School with the Children of Israel and the Egyptians. (God killed all those Egyptians in six inches of water…and you either know what I’m talking about or you don’t.  If you do know, you’ll ‘get’ a lot of what goes on with the Bible Salesman.)

So, if it sounds appealing to you, it certainly did to me, and I did read the whole thing. For the most part I enjoyed it. Even though it’s not my particular cup of tea, I’m glad I bought the book.  If you’ve no knowledge of or interest in the South in the 50s, fundamentalist Baptists and car thieves it’s probably not what you’re looking for.