Out of the Night That Covers Me

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In Bainbridge, Alabama, eight-year-old John Gallatin McMillan III has been the center of his mother's world, cloistered and pampered, until she unexpectedly dies. Taken away by his one remaining relative, his mother's sister, John soon learns that the new home awaiting him in Lower Peach Tree is a run-down tenant farm in the heart of the Alabama Black Belt. There he is thrust into a life alien to anything he has ever known, working long hours in the fields for his violent, alcoholic uncle.<br>As John fights...
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Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 2001 Audio Book New New. Four audio cassettes NEW in the shrink wrap. Brand new. Factory sealed. Four new audio tapes. Enjoy this abridged audio ... performance! Read more Show Less

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Overview

In Bainbridge, Alabama, eight-year-old John Gallatin McMillan III has been the center of his mother's world, cloistered and pampered, until she unexpectedly dies. Taken away by his one remaining relative, his mother's sister, John soon learns that the new home awaiting him in Lower Peach Tree is a run-down tenant farm in the heart of the Alabama Black Belt. There he is thrust into a life alien to anything he has ever known, working long hours in the fields for his violent, alcoholic uncle.<br>As John fights for his survival, he comes to identify with the struggles of the poor blacks he encounters and imagines that his salvation lies in escape to Chicago, just as they feel that their own survival depends on going north to a new life. Instead, a twist of fate brings him to the Bend, a black settlement that has become a refuge for outcasts. Here John meets Mama Tuway, a powerful black healer; Ella, a young mother damaged by the ravages of abuse; and Tuway, a man straddling the black and white cultures and leading a dangerous double life. But none of them--or anyone in Lower Peach Tree--will be ready for the brutal confrontation between blacks and whites, and how it will foreshadow the historic struggle about to sweep across the country.
A powerful drama of prejudice and lost innocence, indomitable courage, and the secret corners of a child's heart, OUT OF THE NIGHT THAT COVERS ME is a testament to Pat Cunningham Devoto's extraordinary talent. Here is a writer who can make us smile and ache within the same sentence, and in a way no writer has ever done before.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Set in the segregated rural South of the 1950s, Devoto's second novel (whose title comes from the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley) illustrates the often tragic consequences of poverty and racism. When his mother dies, eight-year-old John is sent to live with his aunt and violently alcoholic uncle on their ramshackle sharecropper's farm in Peach Tree, AL. On the train ride out to Peach Tree, John is fortunate to meet and impress Judge Vance, the much respected president of the local bank. Soon after arriving on the farm, John trades his beloved books for a hoe, toiling all day in the sweltering cotton fields. When the Judge learns of John's condition, he offers him a job doing small errands at the bank just as racism throws the town into chaos. Devoto narrates her coming-of-age story with quiet emotion and a musical Southern accent, but a dramatic, unabridged reading of the work would also be most welcome. Recommended for all fiction collections. Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570429866
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hours

Read an Excerpt

Out of the Night That Covers Me


By Pat Cunningham Devoto

Warner Books

Copyright © 2001 Patricia Cunningham Devoto
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-67802-3


Chapter One

Earlier in the day, a bright Alabama sun had called up the dew. By now, its shine gave shade to only one small space directly beneath the eaves of the depot. He stood in this shadow, staring out.

It sat before him as repulsive as anything he had ever seen, steam rising from its bottom as if it were relieving itself on the tracks. Sweat glistening on its gray-black body, then dripping off onto the crossties. Horrible grinding, clanking noises as it readjusted to its coupling harness. He felt nauseated by the sight.

Outwardly, he was desperate to appear unmoved. His eyes pretended calm study of the engine. His mouth was in a straight line of indifference, as if he were viewing the most ordinary of things. Only his fingers betrayed him. They shook as he pushed up the nosepiece on his glasses. He quickly clasped them behind his scrawny eight-year-old back.

Inside was another matter. Inside, his head was on fire with yelling. When she was alive, he had never even thought of raising his voice to her. Now his head constantly echoed with his yelling ... idiot, idiot. It was the harshest word he knew. A classmate had called him that once, at school, in a game of kickball.

Since the newspapers he read never contained anything approaching bad language and since all the books his mother had ever bought him certainly never had any coarse words, and since he had very seldom played with children his own age, other than at school, he was not acquainted with anything more vulgar than idiot.

When she was alive, it had been her job to see that he was not tainted with any of that. In the winter, she would make sure that her only son, John Gallatin McMillan III, never left the house without coat, hat, gloves and galoshes, even on the mildest days. In the summer, especially during the summers when polio stalked the town, he had stayed in the basement with all his toys and books. She had converted the cellar to a playroom. It was cool down there and he was out of harm's way. The maid brought down his dinner every day precisely at noon, a midafternoon snack at four, and when his mother came home, he was allowed to join her upstairs for supper. He had liked it down there. Staying inside all summer had not been unusual in his world. It had been ordinary, expected.

He had known other children casually, his next-door neighbor, the boy down the street. They played outside in the summer, and he felt vaguely sorry for them. They seemed not to have his intelligence, or perhaps they were burdened with mothers who didn't care as much as his mother did. He was not saying that was the case, but perhaps it was.

His head turned slowly as he scanned the engine still squatting there before him. He took a deep breath, trying to regain his composure. Then another, holding it in his lungs, hoping it would slow his heartbeat. Of course, it's bound to be just fine ... isn't it? After all, Aunt Nelda is ... you were her sister.

He tried to stand up straight and add some dignity to the cheap shorts and shirt Aunt Nelda had given him to wear. The baggy pants blossomed out around his spindly white legs. She had bought them for him the day after the funeral-had gone down to Harold's and bought them. Everyone knew that only country people shopped at Harold's. He should be wearing his dark blue suit. That's what you wore on a train.

We rode on one once before, remember? You said it would be good for me to know about such things: how to ride on a train, what to tip the porters, what to do when you spent the night in a hotel. I was dressed properly then. He felt a little better now. Just keep talking to her. Let's see. Let's see, it was the Tennesseean, out of Knoxville, bound for Memphis. You saved a whole year for that trip. Remember?

He gritted his teeth in disgust. She never answered him. No matter how much he talked, she never answered him, but he knew she was still there. He knew it was like the soldiers he had read about. They would have an arm or a leg blown off, and for days, even weeks after it happened, they could still feel the arm itching, the leg aching, the mother calling. He had heard her in his sleep calling to him, but not when he was awake. No matter, he knew she was still there, somewhere around him-watching.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Out of the Night That Covers Me by Pat Cunningham Devoto Copyright © 2001 by Patricia Cunningham Devoto. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent!!Could not put it down!

    Excellent!!Could not put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    Lost in the pages....

    I loved this book. I was lost in the pages and wrapped up in these characters lives. Its the type of book that will be passed around to all my friends.

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