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Sweeping Up Glass

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Sweeping Up Glass

A Novel
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Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain...
Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain...
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Description-

  • Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.

    Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where whites and blacks eke out a living in separate, tattered kingdoms and where silver-faced wolves howl in the night. But someone is killing the wolves of Big Foley Mountain--and Olivia is beginning to realize how much of her own bitter history she's never understood: Her mother's madness, building toward a fiery crescendo. Her daughter's flight to California, leaving her to raise Will'm, her beloved grandson. And most of all, her town's fear, for Olivia has real and dangerous enemies.

    Now this proud, lonely woman will face her mother and daughter, her neighbors and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. And when she does, she'll ignite a conflict that will embroil an entire community--and change her own life in the most astonishing of ways.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One The long howl of a wolf rolls over me like a toothache. Higher up, shots ring out, the echoes stretching away till they're not quite heard but more remembered.

    There's nobody on this strip of mountain now but me and Ida, and my grandson, Will'm. While I love the boy more than life, Ida's a hole in another sock. She lives in the tar paper shack in back of our place, and in spite of this being the coldest winter recorded in Kentucky, she's standing out there now, wrapped in a blanket, quoting scripture and swearing like a lumberjack. Her white hair's ratted up like a wild woman's.

    I'm Ida's child. That makes her my ma'am, and my pap was Tate Harker. I wish he were here instead of buried by the outhouse.

    Whoever's shooting the wolves is trespassing.

    "I'll be out with the boy for a while," I tell Ida.

    I've brought her a boiled egg, bread and butter, a wedge of apple wrapped in cloth, and a mug of hot tea. She follows me inside and sits on her cot. Ida's face is yellowed from years of smoke, her lips gone thin, and her neck is like a turkey's wattle. Although there's a clean nightgown folded on a crate by her bed, she hasn't gotten out of this one for almost three weeks.

    Pap once told me that when he first met Ida, she was pretty and full of fire. She rode her donkey all over creation, preaching streets of gold over the short road to hell. She still calls daily on the Lord to deliver her from drunkards and thieves and the likes of me. Last summer, she sent off for Bibles in seven languages, then never opened the boxes. It's dark in Ida's shack, and thick with liniment and old age smells. Maybe it's the sagging cartons, still unpacked, although my Saul moved her here a dozen years ago. Then he died, too.

    "I can't eat apples with these false teeth," she says.

    "Will'm saved it for you."

    "Pleases you, don't it, me stuck in this pigsty while you and the boy live like royalty."

    Royalty is a cold-water kitchen behind the grocery store. Will'm sleeps in an alcove next to the woodstove. I take the bedroom. Here in the cabin, I've tried to better Ida's life, bring a table, hang a curtain, but she says no, she'll be crossin' soon.

    "I'll be out with the boy for a while," I repeat.

    "I'll ask God to forgive your sins, Olivia."

    Ida's not the only thing that sets my teeth on edge. I worry about the way folks come for groceries but have no money. Most of the time, they take what they need. Will'm and I write everything down, and they pay as they can--sometimes in yams or yellow onions, a setting hen when the debt gets too high.

    If Pap was here, he'd tell me everything was going to be all right.

    "Hurry up if you're going with me," I tell Will'm.

    Damn fool's errand. I put on my big wool cape and mittens. I have Saul's rifle.

    Will'm brings the toboggan from the barn. He's wearing a pair of old boots and so many shirts that he looks like a pile of laundry. I can barely make out his dark grey eyes through the round holes in his wool cap. I know what he's thinking, just like Pap used to--some injured thing might need his care.

    I'll be forty-two next year--too old and thick-legged to plow uphill through snow that makes my hips ache. I should be home in my kitchen, warming beans from last night's supper. Behind me, Will'm pulls the toboggan by its rope. We haven't gone far before my fingers are froze, my toes are numb, and I realize I've misjudged the light. Where the snow lays smooth and clean, we stop to get our breath. It's darker up here among the alders and pine. I set the lantern on the toboggan, strike a match, and lay the flame to the wick.

    Below, to the left, lights...
About the Author-
  • Carolyn Wall is an editor and lecturer. As an artist-in residence, she has taught creative writing to more than 4,000 children in Oklahoma, where she is at work on her second novel, The Coffin Maker, coming from Delta in 2010.

Reviews-
  • O, The Oprah Magazine "Haunting, lyrical, entirely absorbing, Sweeping Up Glass deserves a place on the shelf next to classics like True Grit and To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • Mystery Scene "Carolyn D. Wall has created an engaging character in Olivia Harker and a complex and densely interconnected community in Aurora, Kentucky. Her evocative prose recalls the regional style of such authors as Flannery O'Connor, Harper Lee, and Eudora Welty."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Wall gives her heroine a powerful voice in this haunting debut."
  • MLB News "A real stunner, with plot and characters the like of which you've never seen."
  • Library Journal, starred review "Highly recommended for all collections."
  • Joe R. Landsdale, Edgar-award winner "This is a perfect little book, like a head-on collision between Flannery O'Connor and Harper Lee, with a bit of Faulkner on a mystery binge. I loved every page of it."
  • Mystery News "A powerful novel...features unforgettable characters placed in a terrifying situation....this is a fine novel which deserves a wide audience."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "The strong, fresh narrative voice pulls the reader in and doesn't let go in Wall's stunning debut."
  • Library Journal, starred review "The suspense is gripping, the danger is very real, and the reader gets caught up in Wall's powerful, moving debut."
  • Booklist "This debut novel does so much more than traditional, tightly focused mysteries. It has a powerfully, sometimes uncomfortably, realized setting; characters who seem drawn from life; and a wide-ranging plot, bursting with complications...A gripping story and a truly original voice."
  • Boston Globe "This extraordinary debut novel...is filled with arresting images, bitter humor, and characters with palpable physical presence. The fresh voice of that clear-eyed narrator reminded me of Scout in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I literally could not put it down."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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