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Eating Mississippi
     

Eating Mississippi

by Scott Ely
 

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Fiction. Scott Ely's latest novel is the chronicle of two down-river journeys, disparate in time, but oddly merging in intensity, and finally, intent. When Robert Day discovers a French diary written by an ex-slave named Octavius-who fled to Haiti after murdering his master, and his lover, for initiating plans to take a wife-he immediately decides to imitate

Overview


Fiction. Scott Ely's latest novel is the chronicle of two down-river journeys, disparate in time, but oddly merging in intensity, and finally, intent. When Robert Day discovers a French diary written by an ex-slave named Octavius-who fled to Haiti after murdering his master, and his lover, for initiating plans to take a wife-he immediately decides to imitate Octavius' journey down Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico, driven by his own grief over his murdered wife. But as Robert travels, and translates the diary, he learns just how terribly violent Octavius' escape was. And that violence soon emerges not only in Robert's life, but in the lives of the three men accompanying him on the journey.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ely's quirky, humid novel (after Pulpwood: Stories) tracks two parallel journeys down the Pearl River through Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Day, a grieving, widowed translator, discovers a 19th-century French manuscript by a runaway slave named Octavius Maury in the attic of his Mississippi home. He determines to translate the manuscript while retracing Octavius's journey down the Pearl River. Day recruits three tennis buddies for the trip, and the men float down the river, fishing and hunting turtles for food. Throughout, Day reads aloud from Octavius's memoir, which details how he murdered his master (also his gay lover) in a jealous rage and then took off for Haiti. Ely's rendering of Octavius's account sounds incongruously contemporary, given its 1868 date, and the odd, ad hoc river trip feels especially arbitrary in the early going. Ely strives to up the atmospheric ante as the group approaches the Gulf of Mexico: memories of Day's wife continue to haunt him; the men become increasingly engrossed by Octavius's tale; and they mark their days by strange encounters with river wildlife. The river trip finally ends in tragedy when one of Day's companions goes mad. Ely's stilted exposition makes for awkward execution of what might otherwise be a fascinating conceit. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781931982634
Publisher:
Livingston Press
Publication date:
10/28/2005
Pages:
198
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author


Scott Ely was born in Atlanta, Georgia but moved at an early age to Jackson, Mississippi where he received his MA in English from the University of Mississippi. Later he received an MFA from the University of Arkansas. He now teaches fiction writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Ely has published two novels, Starlight and Pit Bull, with Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Penguin. He has published two collections of short stories: Overgrown with Love from The University of Arkansas Press and The Angel of the Garden from The University of Missouri Press. One of his stories has been included in New Stories from the South. A story will be included in a forthcoming University of Georgia Press anthology, After O'Conner: Contemporary Georgia Stories. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship and a Rockefeller Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy.

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