Friday, January 13, 2006

A River Rising

I'm interrupting our discussion of story resolution for today. We will get back to it Monday.

I’ve decided to start something new this year. Every once in a while—at least once a month, I hope—I want to tell you all about a novel published within CBA that I’ve found particularly well done. I’m no reviewer and won’t pretend to write a review. I just want to give you a flavor of the story and pass on my high recommendation, hoping you BGs will buy the book and see for yourselves. Together we can support great Christian fiction.

My first recommended book, just released, is
Athol Dickson’s River Rising.

From marketing copy: Welcome to Pilotville, Louisiana, 1927, isolated outpost on the Mississippi River--a stilt village bounded by swampland to the horizon, accessible only by boat, an island of brotherly love in a sea of racism. Meet Hale Poser, a stranger with a bad hip who’s come looking for his roots--a humble man, a righteous man, a miracle man. In the swamp beyond the cypress and the tupelo and veiled by Spanish moss lies a lingering evil. For years it slept in dreadful isolation. Now comes Hale Poser, and it will sleep no more. It will rain down on Pilotville, it will rise up like a river, and nothing but a miracle can stop this awful flood.

Story’s opening:

The colored fellow came early in the morning, poling a pirogue through mist so heavy on the river you could not see a stone's throw out. Jean Tibbits watched him from his chair on the wharf, noting the unruly brim of his black felt fedora, his white shirt buttoned to the top, and his black wool suit, shiny from wear. As the newcomer came closer, Tibbits realized his trousers were rolled up over his calves, something you did not often see on a man wearing a suit. At his neck a pair of brown leather shoes dangled from tied-together laces. The laces were white and did not match the shoes. The colored fellow stood at the back of the flat-bottomed boat, guiding it alongside the wharf in silence except for the musical ripple of the river against the hull and the soft bump when the lichen-streaked boat kissed a piling.

Jean Tibbits spoke to him without raising his voice or rising from his chair. "Hey, mon. What you do there?"

"Sir." The Negro touched the floppy brim of his hat. "I come looking for work."

River Rising has received highly favorable endorsements and reviews. You can read them at (Click on new releases, then scroll down to click on the River Rising cover.) I enjoyed the book’s prose and unpredictability. I love the way the story drags you through the mud of bigotry, then washes over your soul. It leaves you staring into space, pondering redemption and grace, after the last page is turned. Athol is a skilled, insightful writer—the kind of writer you can trust, who can present a startling scenario and cause you to believe every word of it.

Another excerpt, which you won't find online--a dark night in the hero’s soul (used with permission):

Hale lifted his shovel a little, thinking violent things. He knew the others believed he had gone crazy, but they were wrong. Actually, it was just the reverse. His thoughts had never been so clear. They consumed him, demanding everything. He had been thinking about violence, examining it with curiosity and reaching the conclusion it was something one should practice if one could, to get it right. He did not recall ever harming a man deliberately. He had always feared the Lord. But now the divine whisper had been silenced, and in the remaining void he recognized a righteous provocation for unfamiliar dreams of violence . . . Though he supposed he might feel something again one day, for now this numbness, this sense of distance, was all-consuming . . . Just as he had not become a minister overnight, it would take time to learn how to do violence correctly. But with patience the learning would come, for here were expert teachers.

The novel is a January publication. Great way to start your year of reading.


Gina Holmes said...

BC, thanks for showcasing Athol's River Rising. I've heard it's an amazing story. I can't wait to read it myself. And Athol is such a nice guy as well as being immensely talented!

Jennifer Tiszai said...

This one has been on my "to buy" list and has moved to the top. Can't wait to read it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I had already put this on the top of my list because of Gina's interview over at Novel Journey. wound me! You're going to let us linger (on pins and needles) until Monday!

C.J. Darlington said...

I've heard many good things about this book. Just saw it in the bookstore yesterday, and I think it's interesting how Bethany House is now doing some of its books in hardcover. For quite some time almost all original books in the CBA were first issued in trade paperback (except perhaps for Peretti, Rivers, etc.). Now they're taking a chance on lesser known writers. Interesting.

I read Athol Dickson's two Garr Reed mysteries he did for Zondervan years ago and enjoyed them.

Cheryl Russell said...

I read "River Rising" several weeks ago, and it is an amazing book. Definately going in my keeper pile. I think I read my book in two days. :-). Parts of that book still stick with me, several weeks later.