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The Dry Well [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Dry Well by Marlin Barton...

The Dry Well by Marlin Barton

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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.91"
Weight:   1.08 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 21, 2001
Publisher   Frederic C. Beil Publisher
ISBN  1929490070  
ISBN13  9781929490073  

Availability  0 units.

More About Marlin Barton

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Marlin Barton is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Wichita State University. He was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship for Literature from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, received the "Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook" award for the best first volume of short stories, and was anthologized in "Best American Short Stories for 2010." He is assistant director of the "Writing Our Stories" project for juvenile offenders in Montgomery.

Marlin Barton currently resides in Montgomery Montgomery. Marlin Barton was born in 1961.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States

Reviews - What do customers think about The Dry Well?

Short Stories to Care About   Mar 26, 2008
I'm usually not a fan of short stories. Too often I feel disappointed by the content, ending, or characters. Marlin Barton's stories took me so deeply into Southern culture and the characters who populate it that I felt I had spent a large part of my life observing and interacting with these people and this place. The depth to which he is able to take a character in one short story continually surprised me. I was especially moved by the stories about fathers and sons. Having grown up the only girl in a family of boys and a mother who worked most weekends while my dad took charge, I was witness to a male world without the keys to enter it. These stories confirmed many of the things I suspected, but never was allowed to experience about this world. I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks to read about what matters in relationships between people, their histories, and their cultures.
The stories in this volume capture the South at its darkest - yet at the same time they reveal the brightest sparks of the souls of the characters that have been brought to life so vividly here by Marlin Barton. Centered loosely around a single family, they cover a wide span of time - from the Civil War to the present day. Considering the time and place of some of the stories, it's easy to understand that there is some serious ugliness involved - but rather than play it loudly and cheaply, Barton has chosen to be more of a medium than a creator. In his hands, the words become crystalline, allowing the reader to see effortlessly into the lives and times depicted.

The collection begins in (more or less) the present, with `Jeremiah's road', in which an elderly Black man sees the values to which he has clung for so many years fraying at the edges, most evident in the behavior of members of the family across the road. In this story, as in many here, there is an aching sadness for things that are lost, things that are perceived as vital in order to make a life whole, to make sense of the insensible. There are successes and failures - and all of the grey area in between - represented in these chronicled lives. From `Jeremiah's road', the title story takes us back to the time of the Civil War - but rather than being just another story of battles and bloodshed, Barton instead delicately paints a poignant portrait of a single soldier, touched by what he has seen and experienced in ways that will change him forever. The stories continue to work their way through time, winding up with `The cemetery', set, like `Jeremiah's road', in the present.

Many of the stories here involve struggles between the races - struggles to understand each other, to coexist, to find a way to treat each other with respect, sometimes simply to tolerate. There are no sermons here - right and wrong are presented in turn, and it's not always easy to tell them apart. Hmmm - rather like life. Barton's style is simply an amazing thing to behold. His writing is deceptively well-crafted, allowing its complexity to be shrouded in apparent simplicity - but therein lies his craftsmanship as a wordsmith. I think that `The minister', `Fires' and `The cemetery' moved me the most - but every single one of these stories is an absolute gem. I can't wait to read more by this writer.

"The Dry Well " Deep with Power and Beauty  Aug 20, 2001
The stories in Marlin Barton's "The Dry Well" are at once individual masterpieces and a powerful whole. The characters, several generations of the Anderson family, struggle with their personal "grotesqueness," transcending their community of Delmarville, Alabama into a southern "Winesburg, Ohio." Some, like the bitter cripple, Aiken, are outwardly afflicted, whereas Rafe, the protagonist of the title story, suffers from a dark, inner turmoil which causes him to doubt his own motives. In these characters' sufferings runs a powerful undercurrent of the chiaroscuro within every human soul.

Barton's imagery immerses the reader in time and place, but also subtly reveals the emotional landscape of his characters. For example, on page 36, Rafe saw ... "the moon, perfect in its half-symmetry. Its edge looked as if it had been cut with a knife honed on a fine-grained whetstone; the few streaks of clouds below it save almost the suggestion of blood, as if the cut had done the moon injury." Rafe is thus revealed as a Confederate soldier, no stranger to bloodshed.

The most brilliant moments in Barton's prose, however, are his story endings. Each is a moment of pure finesse, often a surprise delivered in the last line, yet every one is wholly, perfectly, inevitable.

It takes a lot to impress this critical reader. Marlin Barton's "The Dry Well" does.


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