As recorded in Rick Collignon’s second novel,
Perdido, a tall black man with one arm longer than
See more details below
Madewell Brown

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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 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
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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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936071432
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 3 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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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2009

    Quiet but poignant novel about seeking the past to find the future

    Madewell Brown by Rick Collignon is the sequel to Perdido that takes place in the fictional town of Guadalupe, New Mexico. When his father dies, Cipriano finds an old leather satchel with the name Madewell Brown on it. In the bag are some old baseball clothes, a picture of a group of fourteen black baseball players, and a letter addressed to Obie Poole in South Cairo, Illinois that appears to be over fifty years old. Cipriano drops the letter in the mail setting off a chain of events that will expose a town's wounds and bring peace to a woman's soul. With a few deft strokes of his author's brush, Collignon brings to life each and every character. The small town of Guadalupe itself is a character with its dusty mesas and the fierce loyalty shared between its citizens. With just over 200 pages, this novel is a quiet meditation about seeking truth and finding yourself.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Whatever happened to Madewell Brown?

    This is the story of Madewell Brown, told in flashbacks by his friend and fellow ballplayer Obie Poole. Obie and Madewell grew up in South Cairo, Illinois and together with a band of other boys created the South Cairo Greys - an African-American baseball team. For most of the players, the team was the only family they ever really had. As you can tell from the first sentence, Obie is the only one who ever returned to South Cairo - all the other ones dropped out or died or were killed while they were on the road. Madewell just walked off the pitcher's mound in El Paso, Texas and Obie never did know what happened to him.

    Many years later, back in South Cairo, a young girl named Rachel wanders by Obie's house - he recognizes her at once as the granddaughter of Madewell Brown. Over the years they form an unlikely friendship, as she provides him company and an outlet for all his stories - and he provides her a link to her past and becomes her surrogate grandfather. When Obie dies, he leaves his few possessions to her - among them a box filled with his memoirs. As she begins to read, she longs to believe that his stories of his baseball days were true.

    In Guadalupe, New Mexico Ruffino Trujillo tells his son Cipriano a tale about a black man that he encountered out on the Mesa when he was a boy. It is the last and pretty much the only story, that he shared with his son about his childhood. Cipriano is perplexed by the story, but searches and finds a canvas bag in his father's shed with the name Madewell Brown on it. It is old, waterstained, covered with dust. Inside is an old blanket, some clothes, a photo of the South Cairo greys and a letter addressed to Obie Poole. Not knowing what to make of his father's story or what to do with the belongings, he mails the letter. It falls into the hands of Rachel.

    As the stories converge, Madewell's history is told and what really happened up on the Mesa is divulged. It is told in simple language, but hints at the violence and racism that existed in that time.

    This is the fourth book in Collignon's Guadalupe series, and I enjoyed it enough that I am going to look for the first three. It was an easy to read book, which would be good for a lazy summer day sitting on the porch with a glass of tea.

    The first four books are Perdido, The Journal of Antonio Montoya, and A Santo in the Image of Cristobal Garcia.

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