Eating Mississippi

Overview

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's journey down the Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico. This, in hopes of overcoming his own grief over his murdered wife. But as Robert translates the diary, he learns just how terribly violent Octavius's escape was. And that violence becomes reflected not only in Roberts' life, but in the lives ...
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Overview

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's journey down the Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico. This, in hopes of overcoming his own grief over his murdered wife. But as Robert translates the diary, he learns just how terribly violent Octavius's escape was. And that violence becomes reflected not only in Roberts' life, but in the lives of the three men accompanying him on the journey.
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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.
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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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