Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery

Overview

The novel that marked John Gregory’s Brown’s much-heralded debut, DECORATIONS IN A RUINED CEMETERY is a “finely wrought tale . . . that unlocks its secrets like a Chinese box, each hidden compartment opening to reveal yet another, until at the end we stand aghast at the complexity that lies before us” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). This is the heartbreaking story of the Eagens, an New Orleans family of “mixed blood,” as recalled by three unforgettable narrators, each intimately entangled in the family’s small ...

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1994 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 244 p. Audience: General/trade.

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1st Edition, Fine/Fine Clean, bright & tight. No ink names, tears, chips, foxing etc. Price unclipped. Author's first novel. ISBN 039567025X

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Overview

The novel that marked John Gregory’s Brown’s much-heralded debut, DECORATIONS IN A RUINED CEMETERY is a “finely wrought tale . . . that unlocks its secrets like a Chinese box, each hidden compartment opening to reveal yet another, until at the end we stand aghast at the complexity that lies before us” (Richmond Times-Dispatch). This is the heartbreaking story of the Eagens, an New Orleans family of “mixed blood,” as recalled by three unforgettable narrators, each intimately entangled in the family’s small tragedies and betrayals.

Years ago, when his daughter Meredith was young, Dr. Thomas Eagen abruptly left his wife and children in an incident that still haunts Meredith well into adulthood. She longs to discover the truth behind her father's disappearance, as well as the reasons why Thomas's mother, a proud black woman, abandoned his devout Catholic father.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brown attempts no less a task than to unravel the mystery of race in this well-crafted and moving first novel. One morning in 1965, Dr. Thomas Eagen, who is white, and Lowell and Meredith, his 12-year-old children by his dead first wife, drive away, leaving his second wife, Catherine, and their New Orleans home. But as the trio crosses Lake Pontchartrain, a portion of the causeway bridge collapses; the only casualty is Murphy Warrington, a black man who used to work for Dr. Eagen's father. After being fished from the river, Murphy becomes the catalyst for a series of revelations about Thomas's light-skinned black mother and the reasons she abandoned her husband and son when Thomas was an infant. The story is told partly by a now-adult Meredith, partly via letters from her stepmother Catherine, and partly by the injured Murphy. Brown deftly narrates his novel from various perspectives, making cogent observations about race. But the topic may be too large for this essentially slight, albeit engrossing, story of everyday betrayal. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This promising first novel, which has already garnered attention in literary circles, moves from the 1930s to the 1960s as it tells the story of a ``mixed blood'' family in race-conscious New Orleans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395670255
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gregory Brown lives in Virginia and teaches creative writing at Sweet Briar College. He is the author of The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton LaFleur and Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, which received a Steinbeck Award and the Lillian Smith Award. Audubon’s Watch was selected as the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year.

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