Madewell Brown

Madewell Brown

by Rick Collignon
     
 

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As recorded in Rick Collignon’s second novel,
Perdido, a tall black man with one arm longer than
the other walked into Guadalupe, New Mexico one
morning about 50 years ago, stayed pretty much
to himself for seven years, and then walked back
out of town. No one knew who he was or what
became of him.
Now, as his last act, an old man named

Overview

As recorded in Rick Collignon’s second novel,
Perdido, a tall black man with one arm longer than
the other walked into Guadalupe, New Mexico one
morning about 50 years ago, stayed pretty much
to himself for seven years, and then walked back
out of town. No one knew who he was or what
became of him.
Now, as his last act, an old man named Ruffino
Trujillo tells his grown son Cipriano a story about
what became of the black man. After Ruffino’s
death, Cipriano discovers an old canvas bag
bearing the name of Madewell Brown. Inside are
a hand-carved doll, an old blanket, an unlabeled
photo of a Negro League baseball team, and a
small, yellowing envelope that was never posted.
Thinking it the least he can do, Cipriano mails the
letter. When it arrives in Cairo, Illinois, it comes
into the hands of a young woman named Rachael,
who believes it is from her lost grandfather. She
believes this because of all that she’s been told by
the raggedy old man who taught her everything:
Obie Poole, who was Madewell’s friend and the
orphaned Rachael’s anchor, the man who gives this
eloquent novel its authentic sense of history lived.
Drawn magically forward on Rick Collignon’s
direct and haunting prose, we follow Rachael to
Guadalupe in search of her own identity and we
watch as Cipriano tries to make sense of the story
his father told him about a dead man who didn’t
belong there.
This fourth installment in Collignon’s beloved
Guadalupe series is as magical as its predecessors,
as emotionally honest, as surprising — and it firmly
establishes Rick Collignon as a master American
storyteller.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this wheezy, melancholy tale, Collignon returns to the fictional New Mexico town of Guadalupe (from his previous novel, Perdido), this time by way of a young woman named Rachael. Rachael grew up an orphan in South Cairo, Ill., and carries on a grudging yet loving connection with an elderly man named Obie, who tells her about her grandfather (and his childhood friend), Madewell Brown. When Obie dies, he leaves her his memoirs of his and Madewell's glory days on an African-American baseball team. Meanwhile, in Guadalupe, an elderly man tells his son, Cipriano, about a long-ago desert encounter with a strange black man. Cipriano later finds the man's bag-emblazoned with the name Madewell Brown-stashed in the shed and pulls from it an unsent letter, addressed to Obie, which he drops in the mail. From there, the two stories begin to converge to sketch out Madewell's story, punctuated by Obie's too-nostalgic remembrances of baseball games past. It's decent enough, but there's nothing especially memorable about it. (May)

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Library Journal

In his fourth novel in an acclaimed series that includes The Journal of Antonio Montoya, Perdido, and A Santo in the Image of Cristobel Garcia, Collignon returns to the fictional town of Guadalupe, NM, and continues the strange mystery of Madewell Brown, who arrived in Guadalupe one day in the 1950s, lived there quietly for seven years, and abruptly left. A bag with his name on it has been gathering dust in Ruffino Trujillo's garden shed until Ruffino's son Cipriano discovers it and unpacks a photo of a Negro League baseball team and a stamped envelope addressed to Obie Poole of Cairo, IL. Retired baseball player Obie has passed away, and the letter lands in the hands of his friend and caretaker, Rachael, who believes that Madewell is her grandfather. Obie's narrated flashbacks fill in the details as Rachael and Cipriano begin parallel quests to uncover the truth about Madewell's life and death and their ties to events kept hidden for decades. Straightforward prose and well-drawn characters, married to fragmented memories of racism and violence, make for a compelling tale. Think Tony Hillerman with a dash of Cormac McCarthy.
—Jenn B. Stidham

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781936071432
Publisher:
Unbridled Books
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Rick Collignon is the author of three prior novels: The Journal of Antonio Montoya, Perdido, and A
Santo in the Image of Cristóbal García. Originally from the Chicago area, he has lived in northern
New Mexico for over 30 years.

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