Where the Line Bleeds

Where the Line Bleeds


By (author) Jesmyn Ward

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  • Publisher: Agate Publishing
  • Format: Paperback | 241 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 25mm | 363g
  • Publication date: 6 November 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Evanston
  • ISBN 10: 1932841385
  • ISBN 13: 9781932841381
  • Sales rank: 560,427

Product description

We are so thrilled by Jesmyn Ward winning the National Book Award for her second novel, Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury). When the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote that Jesmyn Ward's first novel Where the Line Bleeds "heralds good things to come," we can only assume it envisioned Ms. Ward's most recent honor. Essence selected Where the Line Bleeds as its book club's recommended read, praising Ward's "lushly descriptive prose" and "prodigious talent and fearless portrayal of a world too often overlooked." The Literary Fiction Review saw her potential as well saying, "Jesmyn Ward's debut novel immediately sets her apart as a young novelist to watch closely." We hope readers enjoy this book as much as we have and begin spreading the word about Ms. Ward's talents. Congratulations again!Vivid from first page to last. A major talent here.--Nicholas Delbanco, author of Spring and Fall and The Count of Concord Starkly beautiful...a fresh new voice in American fiction.--Publishers Weekly (Starred review) Jesmyn Ward is an important new voice in American fiction. Her writing is distinguished by a simple, patient, and utterly focused attentiveness to the physical details of her characters and their lives. The strength and elegance of her debut novel's story is timeless, but made new in the unfamiliarity (to most from outside this region) of the world she creates country, but contemporary; poor and black, but rural, not urban. Set in a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the book tells the story of the fraternal twins Joshua and Christophe, who are graduating from high school as the novel begins. Both boys anticipate and dread their lives as adults. Joshua finds a job working as a dock laborer on the Gulf of Mexico, unloading cargo. But Christophe has less luck: Unable to find a job, and desperate to alleviate his family's poverty, he starts to sell drugs. Joshua does not approve, but his clumsy concern fractures the twins' relationship. When their long-missing addict father reappears, he provokes a shocking confrontation between himself and the brothers one that will ultimately damn or save them. Where the Line Bleeds is unforgettable for the intense clarity of how the main relationships are rendered: the love but growing tension between the twins; their devotion to the slowly failing grandmother who raised them, the obligation they feel to her; and most of all, the alternating pain, bewilderment, anger, and yearning they feel for the parents who abandoned them their mother for a new life in the big city of Atlanta, and their father for drugs, prison, and even harsher debasements. Jesmyn Ward herself grew up in a small Mississippi town near New Orleans, and this book makes palpable her deep knowledge and love of this world: black, Creole, poor, drug-riddled, yet shored by strong family ties and a sense of community that balances hope and fatalism, grief and triumph."

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Review quote

Some books are read in the comfort of a quiet calm. Where the Line Bleeds is not one of those books. Even though this is a book about love, devotion, caring and relationships within a family, a gnawing fear of looming disaster grips the reader from the first page; there's an easygoing sense of the slow moving day-to-day of summer, which is deftly set against a backdrop of looming disaster. Jesmyn Ward s debut novel immediately sets her apart as a young novelist to watch closely. Her sense of place is spot-on throughout the entire book there is absolutely no doubt that she was paying attention as she grew up in the poor south of Gulf Coast Mississippi; she obviously loves this area and knows it and its inhabitants well.--Daniel Van Mieghem "Fiction Literary Review ""

Editorial reviews

Blues on the bayou, and blood to boot.The piney woods of southern Mississippi aren't much of a place. Everyone knows everyone's business, nobody has enough to do, and in between hurricanes there's only trouble to get into. Ward's first novel opens with Christophe and Joshua DeLisle, fraternal twins, preparing to jump into the swirling waters of a muddy river - to cool off, not to kill themselves. It's a portentous moment, for just as each will jump differently, so will their lives take a different course. Caring for an ailing grandmother and just out of high school, the boys are holding their own in this backwater world until temptation presents itself: Joshua finds himself with some folding money after finding a job on the wharves, Christophe with yet more folding money after he takes up selling a little weed after not finding licit work. Danger insinuates itself in the form of the boys' long-absent father, a bad actor with a mean drug habit who likes stronger blends than Christophe has to sell, and the story thenceforth takes turns that can be seen coming from a long way off. Ward's plotting is predictable, but her story is closely observed, full of telling details: "Christophe had fallen asleep in the middle of counting his money, and was stretched out with his arms thrown over his head as if he had been surprised, his mouth open, the bills ragged and bunched underneath him." The author, a native of the Mississippi coast, serves up a world that has been little depicted: the rural African-American South, a place of grinding poverty but enduring loyalties, tragic but somehow noble at the same time.A promising debut. (Kirkus Reviews)