The Resource A shout in the ruins, Kevin Powers

A shout in the ruins, Kevin Powers

Label
A shout in the ruins
Title
A shout in the ruins
Statement of responsibility
Kevin Powers
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
A novel that spans one hundred years and is set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond explores the brutal legacy of violence and exploitation in American society as it examines the fates of the inhabitants of Beauvais Plantation and their descendants
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Character
Review
  • Some passages in Powers’ second novel, following his awarding-winning The Yellow Birds (2012), unfold with a fable’s tragic inevitability, while specificity of setting and character, both strikingly described and original, will brand them into the reader’s consciousness. In his depiction of America’s heritage of racial trauma, he takes the long view, moving between Civil War–era Virginia and 120-plus years later. Mystery surrounds the fate of Emily Reid Levallois, mistress of the Beauvais Plantation, near Richmond, after a devastating 1866 fire. Scenes detail her unhappy circumstances: due to terrible battlefield injuries, her father is unable to prevent his covetous, cruel neighbor, Antony Levallois, from wedding Emily. An enslaved couple, Rawls and Nurse, are brought together and torn apart. In a linked tale beginning in 1956, George Seldom, a ninetysomething African American, travels through the segregated South to his onetime North Carolina home while pondering the unknown circumstances that ensured his childhood survival. Beautifully formed sentences express unsettling truths about humanity, yet tendrils of hope emerge, showing how love and kindness can take root in seemingly barren earth. -- Johnson, Sarah (Reviewed 4/15/2018) (Booklist, vol 114, number 16, p32)
  • This inconsistent follow-up to Powers’s PEN/Hemingway Award–winning The Yellow Birds traces the destructive legacy of slavery from the 19th century to the recent past. The first of the novel’s two main story lines centers on the Beauvais Plantation, contrasting the loveless marriage of its white owners, the young Emily Reid and the volatile Antony Levallois, with the profound connection between two of their slaves, Rawls and Nurse. The affecting second story line, set in 1950s Richmond, Va., concerns 90-year-old George Seldom, the child born of Levallois raping Nurse. Powers strikes a fine balance between the two narratives; less successful, though, are the tangential investigations into the lives of a union officer overseeing Reconstruction, Tom Fitzgerald, and a diner waitress whom George befriends, Lottie Moore. These sections feel like unnecessary padding that softens the impact of the novel as a whole. Emily, Rawls, and Nurse eventually have their violent confrontation with Levallois and make their respective flights from Beauvais, but the resolutions that the book then offers are either too coincidental, cheaply tragic, or vague. The reader is left with a shout that enervates more than it inspires. Agent: Peter Straus, Rogers, Coleridge and White. (May)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 03/05/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 10, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ Powers's debut novel, The Yellow Birds, a National Book Award finalist, offered a poignant rumination on America's reverence for patriotism but simultaneous amnesia regarding the lives of deployed soldiers in a story drawn from the author's own experience as an Iraq War veteran. This second novel, set in Powers's hometown of Richmond, VA, probes the grip of traumatic memory in the aftermath of the Civil War. While former Confederate soldiers roam the backdrop of this work with conflicting convictions dictating their actions in a newly liberated South, former slaves are navigating the concept of freedom within the lingering structures of oppression. Meanwhile, a former plantation owner tries to harness Reconstruction to his advantage only to discover that redemption will not be his fate. Returning to this land, almost 100 years later, a man born shortly after the end of the war struggles to claim his memories of home. VERDICT A masterly meditation on our unbreakable connection to a world predicated on cyclical violence. [See Prepub Alert, 11/6/17.] --Joshua Finnell (Reviewed 03/15/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 5, p88)
  • /* Starred Review */ Spanning more than 120 years, Powers' (Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting, 2014, etc.) new novel is an exploration of the ongoing effects of the Civil War. Alternating chapters between the Civil War era and the mid-20th century, the novel opens with the mysterious disappearance, and rumored death, of Emily Reid Levallois in the late 1860s and then moves back to look over her life beginning with her birth. Her father, Bob, was a mule skinner in Chesterfield County outside of Richmond, Virginia, whose work paid for a "modest but respectable" house and two slaves, Aurelia and her son, Rawls. The Reids live next to the Beauvais Plantation, owned by the coldly cruel Antony Levallois, one of those planters who "dreamed their farms were kingdoms." After Rawls tries to run away, looking for a fellow slave named Nurse he's met and fallen in love with, Levallois buys him, Aurelia, and a Percheron horse for about $1,400, demonstrating in a deft stroke the cruel position of slaves as mere animals to their owners. Levallois was happy with his purchase: "Accounting for inflation, he damn near got the horse for free." Meanwhile, in a story set in the 1950s, we meet George Seldom, now in his 90s and on a quest to seek out some of the places associated with his childhood. While at first the two narratives seem to have little relationship to each other, as the novel progresses we learn of the intricate connections between characters over generations. Back amid the chaos of the Civil War, Bob Reid joins the Confederate army and is badly wounded, his life coming even further apart when he learns that Emily has taken shelter at Beauvais and that Levallois has plans to marry her. With a complex structure reminiscent of Faulkner, Powers adroitly weaves his narrative threads together with subtle connections that reinforce his themes of longing for coherence and the continuing effect of the past on the present. An impressive novel of slavery, destruction, and the arduous difficulties of love. (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2018)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10657941
Cataloging source
IUO
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Powers, Kevin
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • United States
  • Virginia
  • Slavery
  • Race relations
Label
A shout in the ruins, Kevin Powers
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1950589
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
261 pages
Isbn
9780316556477
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316556477
  • (OCoLC)1032828797
Label
A shout in the ruins, Kevin Powers
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1950589
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
261 pages
Isbn
9780316556477
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316556477
  • (OCoLC)1032828797

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