Bitter Milk

Overview


From Whiting Award-winning writer John McManus comes a debut novel of startling originality and mystery.

The son of an unknown father and an ostracized mother, and the next of kin in a long line of bastard relatives, nine-year-old Loren Garland lives a life of subtle mystery beneath the shadow of an East Tennessee mountain. It is on his family's broken-down estate that Loren's imagination grows, and with it, the extraordinary voice of Bitter Milk, a young boy named Luther who ...

See more details below
Paperback (First Edition)
$15.50
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$17.00 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $6.93   
  • Used (13) from $1.99   
Bitter Milk: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$7.99
BN.com price

Overview


From Whiting Award-winning writer John McManus comes a debut novel of startling originality and mystery.

The son of an unknown father and an ostracized mother, and the next of kin in a long line of bastard relatives, nine-year-old Loren Garland lives a life of subtle mystery beneath the shadow of an East Tennessee mountain. It is on his family's broken-down estate that Loren's imagination grows, and with it, the extraordinary voice of Bitter Milk, a young boy named Luther who may be Loren's imaginary friend, his conscience, or his evil twin. And yet outside the puzzle of Loren's brain, there are the darker goings-on of his family--his mother who wishes she were a man, his new uncle who plans to develop the Garland land into real estate, and his withered grandfather who holds the clan together through truculence and fear. When Loren's mother disappears, he must set out on a quest of his own devising, tossing aside the trappings of youth in order to discover the truth of the world.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"McManus's nerve-wracking prose has great pitch and daring...He’s a wildly talented writer." --Joy Williams

"McManus writes like he is inventing a new language on pure guts." --Michael Knight

"Would I be happy to have written these stories myself? I wish I could have written them." --Madison Smartt Bell
"This mysterious, almost phantasmagoric, debut novel is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Orchard Keeper in its precociousness. McManus writes with a wisdom and empathy that belies his youth. Bitter Milk signals the arrival of an important new voice in Southern literature."---Ron Rash, author of One Foot in Eden and Saints at the River

Publishers Weekly
It's hard not to pity Loren Garland, the chunky nine-year-old Tennessean at the center of storywriter and Whiting Award-winner McManus's (Born on a Train; Stop Breaking Down) affecting but uneven first novel. His callow extended family taunts him about his weight; his resentful single mother, plagued by "gender dysphoria," either ignores or dismisses him; and he has no friends at school. He seldom sleeps, and when he does, he suffers from nightmares. And even the imaginary (or ghostly?) Luther, who intrusively narrates the book, and whom the phobic, pusillanimous Loren considers to be his only pal, albeit an invisible one, demeans him: "You best not die, I said..., they'll have to buy your coffin in the husky section." When Loren's mother unexpectedly disappears, an aunt and uncle grudgingly take him in while refusing to reveal her whereabouts. Loren's foulmouthed, precociously misbehaved step-cousin, Eli, introduces him to wine, and as the essentially orphaned Loren is forced to become more confident, a real friendship blossoms between the two, as does a relationship between Loren and his maternal grandfather, a writer of dirty songs. Loren humorously interacts with his mulish grandfather and the fractious Eli, but his journey toward self-enlightenment is otherwise unmemorable and sometimes quite unbelievable: Loren's familiar with laws of physics, but can't figure out that his mom's gone to get a sex-change operation. Agent, Jane Gelfman. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Claustrophobic first novel about an embattled and haunted Southern boyhood. As he did in his story collections, Stop Breakin Down (2000) and Born on a Train (2002), Whiting Award-winner McManus employs familiar Southern Gothic conventions (a conflicted dysfunctional family, gender confusion, a hurt sense of time passing and landscapes changing) in relating nine-year-old Loren Garland's hesitant efforts to escape the twin prisons of his loneliness and his morbid obesity. Loren's single mom, Avery, has turned her back on both motherhood and womanhood, preparing for a sex-change operation while hiding in a mountaintop retreat (the story is set during the 1980s in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains). Loren's recently bereaved grandfather ("Papaw")-a mordant amalgam of Faulkner's Flem Snopes and Al Capp's Pappy Yokum-"writes" tuneless bawdy songs while reluctantly selling his sterile farmland to a greedy developer. And Loren suffers the abuse of relatives he's sent to live with, the taunts of heartless schoolmates and a hysterically paranoid schoolteacher, and the "advice" of invisible companion Luther, who is, variously, the twin that died when Loren was born, the voice of his embryonic conscience or a hallucinatory "component of his memories." The narrative moves toward a kind of liberation, as Loren makes a separate peace with Papaw, foreseeing the shape of his hitherto occluded future-and Luther, like Shakespeare's Ariel, sensing his mission accomplished, seizes his freedom. The result is a densely atmospheric, propulsive tale (presented without chapter breaks) that doesn't quite work, because McManus can't seem to decide who or what Luther (the sometimes obtrusive, sometimes concealed narrator)is; and because Bitter Milk contains numbingly top-heavy echoes of Cormac McCarthy's The Orchard Keeper; Thomas Tryon's The Other, and (especially) Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. The work of a young writer still seeking his own voice. When McManus finds it, the results may be spectacular. Author tour
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312301934
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author


John McManus was raised in Maryville, Tennessee. The author of the collections Born on a Train and Stop Breakin Down, he became the youngest ever recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award in 2000.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)