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Posted July 3, 2010
Do the Right Thing.
I received this book through the First Reads giveaway program on Goodreads.
Writing a review of M. Glenn Taylor's The Marrowbone Marble Company has been difficult for me - not because of the book itself but because determining where it fits in my reading experience and my life experience has been an elusive process. Covering the period from October, 1941 to January, 1969 - with a ten-year gap from 1953 to 1963 - the book could be "about" any of several things. The protagonist, Loyal Ledford, tends the furnace on the swing shift in a West Virginia glass factory until he enlists in the Army immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His experiences and the people he serves with in the Pacific are things that will continue to influence him long after the end of the war. On his return to West Virginia, he resumes his job at the glass factory, marries, and begins to raise a family. Unhappy with the hierarchy under which he works at the glass factory, he soon leaves to not only build a marble factory but a new community as well, based on what each member is able to contribute.
In June of 1963 I was a few weeks shy of my eighth birthday. In January of 1969 I was a semester and a summer - one that included the first moon landing and Woodstock - away from high school. My age and living in southern New Mexico during that time period meant that I didn't understand much about what little exposure I had via the evening news to the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, so reading about how a community in West Virginia experienced that time gave me a very different perspective on it. While reading the book, I fell into thinking that it was about the Civil Rights Movement but in the weeks since I turned the last page, the story has risen into my conscious thought on numerous occasions and I've come to realize that the point of the story is much more fundamental. It's about doing what's right and about learning that knowing what's right isn't always as easy as it should be. Loyal Ledford learns through hard lessons that what's right for one isn't always right for another and that subsuming one's own "right" to that of another or of a group can lead to bitter or disastrous results. Ultimately he learns that doing the right thing always involves a personal choice and that making that choice won't necessarily lead to the best results.
Taylor writes in such a way that you feel the protagonist's mood and frame of mind through the "voice" of the story. He develops his characters so well that if you were dropped into the Marrowbone community, you would know everyone there by sight. I enjoyed this book immensely and know that it will be with me for quite some time.
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Posted July 19, 2010
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