Monday, May 13, 2013
Author: Raymond Atkins
Hardcover: 260 pages
Publisher: Mercer University Press (March 11, 2013)
Travel to Sequoyah, Georgia, to meet Early and Ivey Willingham. Early is a lifelong underachiever who occasionally smokes marijuana, drinks malt liquor, and watches the world go by. Ivey is a modern day prophet who sees dead relatives and angels in her sleep. Together they own Camp Redemption, a failing Bible camp in the North Georgia mountains.
After they are forced to close the camp, Early and Ivey begin to attract a motley collection of people in trouble. First to arrive is Jesús Jimenez, an abused runaway from Apalachicola, Florida. Then Millie Donovan arrives, children in tow. Charnell Jackson, an out-of-luck lawyer on the dodge, is next on the scene, followed by Isobel Jimenez - Jesús mother - and her other children. Hugh Don Monfort, the local bootlegger, is the final arrival.
Trouble looms as these travelers settle into their new home. Gilla Newman and the deacons at the Washed in the Blood and the Fire Rapture Preparation Temple covet the camp, and they intend to have it. Juan Jimenez is searching for his fugitive family, and he means to have them back. Charnell Jackson is sought by a variety of creditors, Millie Donovan is looking for a second chance at life, and Hugh Don Monfort is just one step ahead of the law. All these threads converge on a frigid morning in high Georgia, and from that moment forward, nothing is the same at Camp Redemption.
I have frequently stated this same phrase, "Raymond could write a toaster manual and I would read it repeatedly." The man can turn a phrase like few are able. His words flow like butter over hot corn on the cobb. He can take a simple phrase and put a dry wit filled spin on it and turn it from plain descriptive wording to poetry.
I know I sound ridiculously gushy about the author and his book but in all seriousness, there are a few authors that I have come across where their wordplay is almost so fascinating and well done that I don't really care what the book is about, I just enjoy reading what they have put down on paper. Raymond happens to be one those authors.
At the same time, this is a truly enjoyable book to read. The characters jump off the page and are alive with emotion. Early and Ivey are a lovely pair of siblings with nothing but kindness in their hearts, and watching them deal with the interesting pile of eccentrics and regular folk that cross their path is incredibly enjoyable.
A great story, wonderfully alive characters and wordplay that is astoundingly well written - what more do I need to say?