The Marrowbone Marble Company

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From the author of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a finalist for the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, comes this sweeping novel of love and war, power and oppression, faith and deception, over the course of three defining american decades.

1941. Loyal Ledford works the swing shift tending furnace at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts Rachel, the boss's daughter, a company nurse with spike-straight posture and coal-black hair. But when ...

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2010 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. SHIP DAILY from NJ; GIFT-ABLE as NEW, UNREAD fresh FIRST; NEW w/DJ NEW AS SHOWN THIS PHOTO Glued binding. Clothette over ... boards. With dust jacket. 360 p. Audience: General/trade. 7999 7999-Moving from the hills of West Virginia to the islands of the Pacific and back, "The Marrowbone Marble Company" is a sweeping novel of love and war, power and oppression, faith and deception, from the author of "The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart." Read more Show Less

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The Marrowbone Marble Company: A Novel

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Overview

From the author of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a finalist for the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, comes this sweeping novel of love and war, power and oppression, faith and deception, over the course of three defining american decades.

1941. Loyal Ledford works the swing shift tending furnace at the Mann Glass factory in Huntington, West Virginia. He courts Rachel, the boss's daughter, a company nurse with spike-straight posture and coal-black hair. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked, Ledford, like so many young men of his time, sets his life on a new course.

Upon his return from service in the war, Ledford starts a family with Rachel, but he chafes under the authority at Mann Glass. He is a lost man, disconnected from the present and haunted by his violent past, until he meets his cousins, the Bonecutter brothers. Their land, mysterious, elemental Marrowbone Cut, calls to Ledford, and it is there, with help from an unlikely bunch, that the Marrowbone Marble Company is slowly forged. Over the next two decades, the factory grounds become a vanguard of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, a home for those intent on change. Such a home inevitably invites trouble, and Ledford must fight for his family.

Returning to the West Virginia territory of the critically acclaimed The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, Glenn Taylor recounts the transformative journey of a man and his community. Told in clean and powerful prose in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and John Irving, The Marrowbone Marble Company takes a harrowing look at the issues of race and class throughout the tumultuous 1950s and '60s. It is a story of struggle and loss, righteousness and redemption, and it can only be found in the hills of Marrowbone.

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Editorial Reviews

Houston Chronicle
“Taylor’s prose is so fluid and seemingly effortless that [it] bridges the usually irreconcilable gap between popular fiction and literary fiction. . . . A literary page-turner . . . stunning, fully realized, unique and ambitious book that proves there’s still passion, fire, and brilliance in the American novel.”
Denver Post
“Captivating . . . . A rich stew, one well-worth savoring.”
Bookpage
“A beautifully realized novel...Central among [the characters] is Loyal Ledford himself. A renegade who rejects the precast American Dream for something more elusive, perhaps even unattainable, this scarred, flawed man embodies a familiar component of our national character: hope.”
Christian Science Monitor
“THE MARROWBONE MARBLE COMPANY is a novel about one man’s mountaintop idealism, but written in so earthy and sweat-streaked a way that it never runs out of oxygen.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Taylor has created a remarkably complex, soulful, and provocative historical novel righteous in its perspective on America’s struggle to live up to its core beliefs.”
Publishers Weekly
Taylor returns to the West Virginia backdrop of his NBCC-award finalist The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart with a novel that spans almost three decades in the life of an orphan. Between attending college classes and working as a factory furnace tender at Mann Glass Company, 18-year-old Loyal Ledford keeps himself busy. But when WWII begins, he dutifully enlists in the Marine Corps, abandons his girlfriend (and boss's daughter), Rachel, and heads off to war, where he quells the trauma with whiskey. Ledford's homecoming is celebrated with a marriage to Rachel, a return to school and the glass factory, and the birth of two children. The ghosts of his wartime stint plague his psyche, but after meeting his part-Indian cousins, the Bonecutter brothers, and becoming enchanted with the family land where they live, Loyal and his cousins begin a marble manufacturing company. Soon, civil rights strife rips through the region, threatening the survival of Loyal's company and the future of his family. Taylor's socially astute and fast-moving sophomore novel is earthy, authentic, and a testament to his literary talent. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A giant of a man seeks his fortune in the hills of West Virginia. Taylor (English/Harper Coll.; The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, 2008) fluidly composes a portrait of a man whose sheer fortitude makes molehills out of mountains. The book's moral center is Loyal Ledford, a country orphan who sweats out a living tending the furnace at a factory in Huntington. On the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ledford resigns to join the Marines and discovers the horrors of war in places like Guadalcanal. Returning home in the company of his comrade Erm Bacigalupo, Ledford marries a local girl and tries to settle down to raise his family, but the tremors of war just won't subside. It's only when Ledford meets his two hell-raising cousins that his path becomes clear. "I knowed you would come," says one of the Bonecutter brothers, acknowledging Ledford's almost mystical presence in the lives of those who gather around him. Following a vision, Ledford starts the titular marble company and by the 1960s has built a burgeoning community on Bonecutter Ridge. The communal village is built on common-sense values, providing protection for the working poor and an equal playing field for men of all colors. But rural prejudices and encroaching governmental interference soon not only threaten the safety of those under Ledford's protection but could drive its denizens into an unwelcome Diaspora. Taylor makes a few prosaic missteps-everything seems to be the color of rust-but the powerful prose outstrips its few drawbacks. It's a big, ambitious book that falls somewhere between the sweeping epics of Richard Russo and the masculine bravado of Ken Kesey's best work. A huge ensemble cast and a complex socialnarrative may put casual readers off, but the rewards for those who see this one through are satisfying indeed.
Booklist (starred review)
“Taylor has created a remarkably complex, soulful, and provocative historical novel righteous in its perspective on America’s struggle to live up to its core beliefs.”
Bookpage
“A beautifully realized novel...Central among [the characters] is Loyal Ledford himself. A renegade who rejects the precast American Dream for something more elusive, perhaps even unattainable, this scarred, flawed man embodies a familiar component of our national character: hope.”
Christian Science Monitor
“THE MARROWBONE MARBLE COMPANY is a novel about one man’s mountaintop idealism, but written in so earthy and sweat-streaked a way that it never runs out of oxygen.”
Denver Post
“Captivating . . . . A rich stew, one well-worth savoring.”
Booklist
"Taylor has created a remarkably complex, soulful, and provocative historical novel righteous in its perspective on America’s struggle to live up to its core beliefs."
Jayne Anne Phillips
“A novel of stirring clarity and power [that] speaks unforgettably from a half century ago to issues still unresolved in American life. Taylor has composed a hymn to the human heart.”
John Casey
“A terrific rough-and-tumble novel. It’s set in West Virginia, which may be the last state in the US where whole-hearted goodness, violence, hard work and hard ways are all just a breath apart. Glenn Taylor gets it all in—both in sharp detail and in bold broad strokes.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061923937
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/11/2010
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenn Taylor was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. His first novel, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award and was also a Fall 2008 Barnes & Noble Discover pick. Taylor lives in Chicago with his wife and three sons.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    super historical epic

    In 1941 in Huntington, West Virginia, eighteen year old orphan Loyal Ledford works as a furnace tender at the Mann Glass Company factory while also attending college. He likes his boss' daughter Rachel and persuades her to go out with him. When the war breaks out, Loyal joins the Marine Corps.

    After major combat tours, he comes home to a hero's welcome. He marries Rachel, they have two kids and he returns to the glass manufacturing factory. However, he suffers from the trauma of battle until he meets his cousins, the Bonecutter brothers. They form a partnership, The Marrowbone Marble Company and a company village that welcomes all races and proves successful over the couple of decades until the civil rights movement marches through the area threatening his business, his village and his family.

    This super historical epic returns to the land of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart as The Marrowbone Marble Company focuses on a man who is ahead of his time re race relations only to be threatened by those trying to catch up. After serving in some of the Pacific's more harrowing battles, Ledford suffers from PTSD until he meets his relatives and their land, which turns him into a visionary. Readers who relish a profound historical tale will appreciate the life and times of the battle fatigued dreamer in the Mountaineer State as he keeps the insightful story line mostly focused although some meandering in the foothills occurs.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Do the Right Thing.

    I received this book through the First Reads giveaway program on Goodreads.

    Writing a review of M. Glenn Taylor's The Marrowbone Marble Company has been difficult for me - not because of the book itself but because determining where it fits in my reading experience and my life experience has been an elusive process. Covering the period from October, 1941 to January, 1969 - with a ten-year gap from 1953 to 1963 - the book could be "about" any of several things. The protagonist, Loyal Ledford, tends the furnace on the swing shift in a West Virginia glass factory until he enlists in the Army immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His experiences and the people he serves with in the Pacific are things that will continue to influence him long after the end of the war. On his return to West Virginia, he resumes his job at the glass factory, marries, and begins to raise a family. Unhappy with the hierarchy under which he works at the glass factory, he soon leaves to not only build a marble factory but a new community as well, based on what each member is able to contribute.

    In June of 1963 I was a few weeks shy of my eighth birthday. In January of 1969 I was a semester and a summer - one that included the first moon landing and Woodstock - away from high school. My age and living in southern New Mexico during that time period meant that I didn't understand much about what little exposure I had via the evening news to the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement, so reading about how a community in West Virginia experienced that time gave me a very different perspective on it. While reading the book, I fell into thinking that it was about the Civil Rights Movement but in the weeks since I turned the last page, the story has risen into my conscious thought on numerous occasions and I've come to realize that the point of the story is much more fundamental. It's about doing what's right and about learning that knowing what's right isn't always as easy as it should be. Loyal Ledford learns through hard lessons that what's right for one isn't always right for another and that subsuming one's own "right" to that of another or of a group can lead to bitter or disastrous results. Ultimately he learns that doing the right thing always involves a personal choice and that making that choice won't necessarily lead to the best results.

    Taylor writes in such a way that you feel the protagonist's mood and frame of mind through the "voice" of the story. He develops his characters so well that if you were dropped into the Marrowbone community, you would know everyone there by sight. I enjoyed this book immensely and know that it will be with me for quite some time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Hunting grounds

    .............

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  • Posted July 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Shutting out the past never works

    Loyal Ledford grows up surrounded by tragedy, and at age thirteen is left to raise himself simply and quietly. Being alone suits him, and he works hard, not making waves. He enlists after Pearl Harbor, eager to defend his homeland. Being sent to the Pacific to fight the Japanese, he learns the horrors of war and the fragility of friendships.



    He returns to West Virginia an angry man, an alcoholic really, who is unable to cope when faced with cruelties in the world. He begins by shutting out the newspaper...he can't bear to hear of other tragedies in the world. As the civil rights struggles heat up, he is shocked and angered by a country that willingly lets blacks fight alongside whites, but then denies them the ability to sit together at a restaurant or on a bus. This disparity eats at him, until he thinks he's found the solution. He sets out to create a utopian community deep in the hills, one that allows people of different races to live side by side, work the land, and form a closeknit family structure, one that he never had. It works out beautifully, for a time. The success he finds eases his injured heart, and he begins to forget the ugliness of the War he fought.



    However, word gets out about his community and he's labelled a Communist, and the new community faces its first real challenges: surviving amid the hate from the outside world directed at it. Things begin to go terribly wrong, and the inner person he thought he left behind returns.



    This work of fiction is well-written and shows the different ways people try and repent from their sins....Ledford sincerely wants to make things right. The clue though, is that besides the newspaper, he then shuts out television, unable to cope with any sort of evil without taking it personally. It's apparent that he is only comfortable in a made-up world of his own making. When he is outside the community, his personality changes. However, he's a likable character and the story unfolds beautifully. A little too beautifully. His new community seems too ideal, the residents behaving perfectly, and a mutual understanding that is a little bit unimaginable. There are no disputes over housing, work, or food, and the ability for everyone to get along so well was unrealistic. Additionally, I kept wondering where the money was coming from, as money for this community and the new marble factory they build is never an issue. I thought that seemed a glaring omission, and it unsettled me throughout the last half of the novel.



    Outside the depictions of war, this is a very peaceful book, a pleasant read that appeals because it represents an ideal most people yearn for. The underlying character study of Ledford is what makes it unique, and shows how complicated people are, and how difficult it is to flee from the past.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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