Pelican Road

Pelican Road

5.0 2
by Howard Bahr
     
 

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From the acclaimed author of The Judas Field, a beautiful and haunting portrait of the men who served on the great American railroads.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1940. Along an isolated stretch of railway between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana, two locomotives travel toward one another through the dark winter landscape. A.P. Dunn,

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Overview

From the acclaimed author of The Judas Field, a beautiful and haunting portrait of the men who served on the great American railroads.

It’s Christmas Eve, 1940. Along an isolated stretch of railway between Meridian, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana, two locomotives travel toward one another through the dark winter landscape. A.P. Dunn, engineer aboard the 4512 southbound freight, reminisces about the last trip he made through the snow. And though he can remember every detail about that voyage in 1923, what he can’t recall are the events of a few hours ago — where he ate breakfast, how he got the gash on his forehead, or what he did to make his crew treat him so strangely.

On the northbound Silver Star, a luxury passenger train packed with returning college students and gift-bearing families, brakeman Artemus Kane has his own memories to contend with: French trenches and German snipers, a failed marriage, and a too-short layover spent with Anna, the brilliant and lonely woman he has just left behind in the Crescent City.

In Pelican Road, Howard Bahr returns to his greatest theme — the tragic nobility of those attempting to overcome difficult situations through love, honor, and sacrifice — and shows that on the railway, catastrophe is never more than a distracted moment away.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

It is Christmas Eve 1940. The United States is on the brink of war, the automobile is king of the road, and racial prejudice is the norm in the South. On an isolated stretch of track between Mississippi and Louisiana, two trains are barreling toward each other to what only can be a tragic end. One is the Silver Star, a luxury passenger train filled with holiday travelers and Artemus Kane, a brakeman who can't help thinking about the last war, the Great War. The other carries a freight of hogs and crewmen, including engineer A.P. Dunn, who can remember every detail of the year 1923 but is having a difficult time remembering what happened that morning. Like a slow-moving train that must build up steam to reach full speed, the plot starts cautiously but chugs on steadily, carefully intertwining each character's backstory, layer upon layer, until the two trains carrying different people who may have known one another or maybe not finally connect in one last and fateful way. Vivid descriptions of passing landscape, of railroad processes, and of the smell and sound of men and trains and life make for a story that will appeal to historical fiction fans and train aficionados alike.
—Kellie Gillespie

From the Publisher
“…re-creates this seminal moment in American history with prose that is vivid, unflinching, and often incantatory…Howard Bahr’s accomplishment is magnificent.”
Washington Post Book World

“…a mature work of fiction by a gifted writer — affectingly eloquent and fearless of complexity and ambiguity…Bahr is a writer with a fluent lyric facility, subtly ensuring that the brutality of his narrative events never becomes numbing…a beautifully wrought novel that deserves a wide audience.”
Los Angeles Times

“[Bahr] is a true poet of weather, of night and of time…Not since James Agee has someone made the Southern night so alive, so intimate, so orchestral…Along with the sweeping, cinematic story of rebellion, loyalty, revenge, and reawakened romance, Bahr’s evocation of place and time is the most enduring achievement of the novel.”
New York Times

“Bahr masterfully portrays ordinary men [whose] belief in courage, honor, pride, and comrades sustains them but leaves them empty but for their terrible memories and grief…beautifully written…”
Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596923782
Publisher:
MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/28/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
299
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Howard Bahr was born in Meridian, Mississippi. During the Vietnam War, he was a gunner’s mate in the U.S. Navy and later worked as a brakeman and yard clerk on five railroads in the South and Midwest. He earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi and was on staff at Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, serving as curator from 1982 to 1993. The author of three previous novels — The Black Flower, The Year of Jubilo, and The Judas Field — he currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi, and teaches at Belhaven College.

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Pelican Road 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hornbillette More than 1 year ago
This contained the simultaneous stories of the lives of men that worked two trains. The story switched between numerous perspectives at the start of each section. It was very nicely written and quite a page turner by the end (even though it's pretty easy to guess the nature of the ending).