Harold Stevens is twelve years old, heading hell-bent for thirteen, away from the comfort of his mother's care to the realities of the world beyond. Grandfather would gladly initiate him into the world's ways, but his lessons are more prattle than practical. Harold's older friends dare him into danger and expose him to new--and not always edifying ...
Harold Stevens is twelve years old, heading hell-bent for thirteen, away from the comfort of his mother's care to the realities of the world beyond. Grandfather would gladly initiate him into the world's ways, but his lessons are more prattle than practical. Harold's older friends dare him into danger and expose him to new--and not always edifying--experiences. But his real mentor is C.K., the twenty-three-year-old black hired hand on his father's farm. Together they fish for the legendary catfish down at the local pond, dare bulls, pick gage from among the wild cactus, and carefully dry it and store it for future use. C.K. takes Harold with him when he run errands in town, and brings him into the mysterious black world beyond the railroad tracks. There Harold learns of C.K.'s big brother, "Big Nail" Emmet, doing time for murder, and of Big Nail's wife, Cora Lee. There is a fraying bond between the two brothers that Harold senses but cannot really fathom.
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Publishers Weekly, 1993-06-28 Southern's sensitive coming-of-age novel fathfully evokes Texas red-dirt country in the 1950s, but the overall effect is rather slight. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly, 1991-10-04 Southern's modest, sensitive coming-of-age novel evokes Texas red-dirt country in the 1950s, when nitwits shoot deer or house cats for fun and a ``damn nigger'' is not worth anything. White 12-year-old Harold Stevens hunts, fishes, smokes pot and has adventures with black C.K., his father's hired hand. Trying hard to act grown-up, Harold assumes he's mentally superior to C.K., who's at least twice his age. Sly, clever C.K., who speaks a rich black idiom, is nobody's fool and the book's real hero, enduring the loutish whitefolk. When C.K.'s murderous convict brother, ``Big Nail'' Emmett, escapes from a prison farm, the stage is set for a tragedy that will presumably mark Harold forever. Screenwriter and novelist Southern ( Flash and Filigree ) faithfully records a time and a place, but the overall effect is rather slight. (Jan.)
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