When I first had the pleasure of hearing Michael Morris describe his new book, I was skeptical. Healers, the Garden of Eden, a man in a box, drug addicts, drunks, murder, magic waters, conspiracies....I thought "How in the world is he going to pull this off"? I should kick myself. Not only does he "pull it off" but he manages to get the reader so involved in the characters and the town that I found myself thinking about the story anytime I took a break. While it was definitely hard to put the book down, the laundry doesn't wash itself. I cheered for Ella and wondered about Lanier. I wanted to give Myer Simpson a tongue lashing and I wanted to...well, what should I say about Clive Gillespie?
I was quite amazed at the quantity of characters in the novel. Generally, once the cast of characters surpasses a certain point, I find myself questioning "who said what?" or "which guy is this again?" That was not the case and Morris masterfullly combines a multitude of characters to create a story so layered and detailed that I would re-read it. I'm not usually a "re-reader." I enjoy a story and I move on. I am a very thorough reader and never rush through a work, but I know I would see details that I missed on a first reading.
In short: The Man in the Blue Moon has the soul of a novel that will maintain its status as a critical piece of Southern fiction for years to come.
The English major in me always thinks about what I would focus on if I were to write a full paper on the work.
- Biblical references and comparisons would warrant a paper almost as long as the book.
- Small town as macrocosm and microcosm.
- Animal imagery (The snake in the grass IS Clive...I guess this could be biblical, too. cats, birds, dogs, owls, alligators, mules and horses. Ruby's fireflies)
- Food / Fruit imagery (cherries on Ruby's turban and Camille's dress, the lawmen's cheese and crackers, oysters, lunch pails and Coca-cola)
- Validation (receipts, deeds, checks, notarized letters, faked letters)
- Moral actions (Bonaparte and his men, Earl's drinking, Myer's gossip)