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When It Burned to the Ground: A Novel [Paperback]

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Item description for When It Burned to the Ground: A Novel by Yolanda Barnes...

"Keep watching for Yolanda Barnes and her work. Her voice is her own and will be heard."-George Garrett

Inspired by the Los Angeles riots of 1992, When It Burned to the Ground is an impressionistic vision of inner-city life. This stunning re-rendering of Eden takes place on imaginary Piedmont Street-an avenue of vital contradictions, with a pawnshop and cemetery, prostitutes and preachers, a street with no money in its pockets. Here we meet a variety of women embattled at society's fringe-Cecile, once a schoolgirl at her history lessons of Pompeii, now a piano teacher down on her luck; Bernadette, seamstress and subject of rumor; an anonymous gardener planting dill as a curative against witchcraft and an amateur botanist studying the bird of paradise, which is both flame and woman's hat.

Throughout this beautifully made montage, recurring images flash into focus and then recede-fire, dusk, the fearsome temper and pleasures of red (lipstick, fig and burning sun). And among them all appears the reluctant street preacher Daniel, a troubling messianic figure bothering Piedmont with warnings of hellfire.

As striking as Jean Toomer's Cane, When It Burned to the Ground is a stark, bold lyric of place and time, an ambitious and innovative fiction. Its stories, sketches and fragments culminate into a haunting book of novelistic breadth and depth, creating a dreamlike and surreal reflection of our own strange world. It is an extraordinary and unique accomplishment.

Yolanda Barnes lives in Los Angeles, where she was born of Creole/black Southern heritage. She graduated from the University of Southern California, where she majored in journalism, and received her MFA from the University of Virginia. Her short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, Ploughshares and the O. Henry and Pushcart Prize collections.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   213
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2005
Publisher   Sarabande Books
ISBN  1932511180  
ISBN13  9781932511185  

Availability  0 units.

More About Yolanda Barnes

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Yolanda Barnes lives in Los Angeles, where she was born of Creole/Black Southern heritage. She graduated from the University of Southern California, and received her MFA from the University of Virginia.Her short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, and the O.Henry and Pushcart Prize collections.

Yolanda Barnes was born in 1959.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Women > Domestic Life

Reviews - What do customers think about When It Burned to the Ground: A Novel?

Why Oh Why?  Nov 17, 2005
You can find a Piedmont Street in any city in the United States, be it large or small. WHEN IT BURNED TO THE GROUND by Yolanda Barnes categorizes a fictional street in Los Angeles as one that has seen its glory days to one of despair. Separated into the four sections, Before It Burned To the Ground, Where It Burned To the Ground, When It Burned To The Ground and After It Burned To the Ground, this novel possesses the utmost of lyrical prose.

Within each section we meet the many inhabitants of Piedmont Street and surrounding areas as they each tell their current stories and those of days gone by. The author provides the official history of its founder, Elliot J. Piedmont and how Piedmont Street came to be. Daniel, a street preacher whose ministry is haunting, does not have the ability to bring the residents into his reach. My favorite, the relationship between sister friends Albee and Lettie is dysfunctional as they meet again after many years of exile from each other. Each character appears to be complex in their mission but simple in thought. As the story progresses we revisit characters from other sections because Piedmont Street interconnects most of them. Their stories are like others; however, the author uses some of the most technical writing skills known to tell this tale making for a somewhat complicated read. The writing lessons are enormous, with stories that are not one dimensional but bewildering and not easily dissected.

Reviewed by Dawn R. Reeves
of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers

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