A Place Called Wiregrass

A Place Called Wiregrass

4.3 28
by Michael Morris
     
 

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Erma Lee is on the run . . . Running from an abusive husband . . . running from a mother who doesn't care — never cared. Running from a soul-numbing factory job that has held her down her entire life ...

Erma Lee and her granddaughter, Cher, flee to the town of Wiregrass, Alabama, to escape the past and start over — or so Erma Lee thinks. Erma Lee forms

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Overview

Erma Lee is on the run . . . Running from an abusive husband . . . running from a mother who doesn't care — never cared. Running from a soul-numbing factory job that has held her down her entire life ...

Erma Lee and her granddaughter, Cher, flee to the town of Wiregrass, Alabama, to escape the past and start over — or so Erma Lee thinks. Erma Lee forms an unlikely friendship with Miss Claudia, an elderly socialite who is hiding a few details about her own past. Life in Wiregrass is different for Erma Lee and Cher, for here they find mercy and promise — until, that is, the day Cher's convict father arrives in town, forcing all three women to come to terms with buried secrets.

Editorial Reviews

Anne Rivers Siddons
"Erma Lee is a wonderful character ...It is hard to believe that Wiregrass is a first novel."
Le Smith
"...truly inspiring and uplifting without ever being preachy or didactic. A real page turner with very strong characters."-
—Anne Rivers Siddons
“Erma Lee is a wonderful character ...It is hard to believe that Wiregrass is a first novel.”
—Le Smith
“...truly inspiring and uplifting without ever being preachy or didactic. A real page turner with very strong characters.”-
--Anne Rivers Siddons
“Erma Lee is a wonderful character ...It is hard to believe that Wiregrass is a first novel.”
--Le Smith
“...truly inspiring and uplifting without ever being preachy or didactic. A real page turner with very strong characters.”-
bn.com
In the remote hamlet of Wiregrass, Alabama, three women have cobbled together a refuge. Conquering her loneliness, aging socialite "Miss Claudia" has taken in Erma Lee and her granddaughter Cher, who are fleeing the scathing abuse of Cher’s father. When this wretched convict appears unexpectedly, our unlikely trio battles to defend their small sanctuary. A strong first novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060727109
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/01/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,111,056
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Place Called Wiregrass


By Morris, Michael

HarperSanFrancisco

ISBN: 0060727101

Chapter One

"What you wearing them sunglasses for?" I'd felt Roxi's shifty glances for the past thirty minutes. I knew the square black frames with gold specks made me look like a June bug, but I still hoped Roxi would drop the subject. As I figured things that morning, I had two choices: either wear the insect spectacles or miss a day of work. And I never missed work.

The thunderous drill of sewing machines provided an easy out. I proceeded to sew another zipper and added the completed product to the bushel of blue rayon slacks piled in a plastic carton at my tennis shoes. I'm gonna get wrote up if I don't hustle, I thought and tried to dismiss Roxi's coal-eyed glances.

"Erma Lee, you fixin' to be a movie star or something?" Roxi asked with her rugged laugh. I didn't know anybody else who could laugh and talk at the same time. Glancing at the big white clock on the factory wall, I knew I couldn't ignore her any longer. It was another twenty minutes until Roxi's smoke break. The comments mixed with her cigarette induced laugh would only get stronger.

"Yeah. I'm on the first bus to Hollywood this evening." I avoided her stare and concentrated on my machine. The hammering needle put a perfect stitch in the crotch of a pair of navy pants.

Her gravel laugh let loose again. "I know that's right. Take me too." Roxi tossed a pair of khakis into the carton.

The zigzag of sixty industrial needles was the only sound I heard. Good, she'll be on to something else directly.

"You got home trouble?"

I shot a quick look across at Roxi's station. She wasn't laughing anymore. Her silver-framed glasses perched on the edge of her nose. The way her black eyes rolled upward made me feel like a schoolteacher was getting onto me.

"No." To make it look like I was really telling the truth, I shook my head. I didn't need her getting all in my business.

"Girl, you forget I been here as long as you. I hope them sunglasses ain't a return to when you ... "

"I'm gonna miss my quota if we keep flapping our jaws like this." I was scared to death to look at Roxi. Terrified she'd know the truth.

Who are you fooling? She already knows, I told myself. And so does everybody else in this metal building. Why didn't I just call in sick?

Roxi sighed and for a couple of minutes focused again on the khaki slacks. "I ain't seen no woman who's tough as you put up with crap like that. You know what I'm saying?"

I shifted my eyes behind the dark bug frames. Roxi was hunched over the white sewing machine, smacking a piece of gum. "My cousin Darlene -- you know the one I'm talking about. She put up with that same mess. And then one day she just hauled off and knifed that no-count husband of hers." The rugged chuckle erupted again. "Yes, ma'am. He punched her one too many times is all. You know what I'm saying?" Roxi suddenly stopped sewing and put both hands on her seated hips. "And she not half the woman you are."

Roxi's unexpected glare made me flinch. Just when I turned to look back at the strip of metal zipper, it happened. Like a mosquito gone mad, the steel needle pounded my right index finger. Numbing pain shot up my fingernail to the top of my shoulder. Snatching my foot off the control pedal, I flew backwards and screamed, "God bless America!"

Roxi jumped to the rescue and pried the needle from loose, bloody skin, tearing more in the process. I moaned, trying not to call more attention than was already coming my way. When I looked up and saw the crowd of women gathering, my right hand began to throb. It was almost worse than the throbbing I'd felt the night before, when Bozo slammed his fist into my eye.


The passenger's seat in Mama's silver Escort pressed hard against my back. I stroked my hair, which draped over my shoulder in a ponytail. Mama said long hair was a luxury we didn't have time for. Mama always used the pronoun we when setting ground rules for herself.

I adjusted the sunglasses, hoping she would notice the big square frames and ask why I was wearing them. I mapped out my response. I'd say, "I got a bandage to cover twenty stitches, just like I got a disguise to cover my banged-up eye."

But Mama never was one for questions about cosmetic matters.

"That hospital ain't nothing but a first-aid clinic," Mama yelled. "We coulda got the same treatment at the factory clinic and saved me hauling you into town. As it is, I'll get docked for the past three hours."

"Well, I'm so sorry, Mama. Let me just see if I could've planned it a little better for you." I edged closer to the passenger window. A haze blanketed the cold glass.

After a few miles, the hum from the engine filled the car. She could care less if Bozo had hit me or not. Mama made her opinion known the day after Bozo and me adopted our granddaughter, Cher.

"You cause him to leave you, and you're up the creek. And now you with that grandbaby to raise."

I still remember Mama shaking her silver head like she had hornets flying around the boyish mane. "And don't think I can take care of you and that young 'un. No siree, not me."

Not that Mama would realize it, but whenever there's been any caring to do, it's been me. Ever since Daddy walked out, I was expected to step up to the plate. Mama took a job at the new Haggar factory, and at fourteen I took a job raising my six brothers and sisters ...

Continues...

Excerpted from A Place Called Wiregrass by Morris, Michael 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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What People are saying about this

Janice Daugharty
Michael Morris is a born writer who learned his craft by living. He knows that story comes first. Try putting this one down!
Lee Smith
Having done a lot of literacy work in one of the poorest counties of eastern Kentucky, I know the world of this novel. Michael Morris has captured the hardscrabble world of the marginalized and dispossessed to a “T.” The depiction of abusive relationships is very real as is the friendship, camaraderie and strength among women. This novel is truly inspiring and uplifting without ever being preachy or didactic. A real page turner with very strong characters.
Lynne Hinton
A Place Called Wiregrass is a powerful story of saving grace, cherished friendship and gritty survival. You’ll read it and cheer. This is a great book!
Tim McLaurin
In words both simple and eloquent, Michael Morris writes of the people he knows with honesty and compassion. His style is worthy of comparisons to fellow Southern writers Larry Brown and Lee Smith.
Anne Rivers Siddons
Erma Lee Jacobs is a wonderful character full of strength, vulnerability and possibility all in equal measure. It is hard to believe that A Place Called Wiregrass is a first novel.
Le Smith
“...truly inspiring and uplifting without ever being preachy or didactic. A real page turner with very strong characters.”-

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Meet the Author

A fifth-generation native of Perry, Florida, a rural area near Tallahassee, Michael Morris knows southern culture and characters. It is the foundation and inspiration for the stories and novels he writes.

Upon graduating from Auburn University, Michael worked for U.S. Senator Bob Graham and then became a sales representative for pharmaceutical companies. As a sales representative, Michael decided to follow a life-long desire and began writing in the evenings. The screenplay he penned during this time is still someplace in the bottom of a desk drawer.

It is when Michael accepted a position in government affairs and moved to North Carolina that he began to take writing more seriously. While studying under author Tim McLaurin, Michael started writing the story that would eventually become his first novel, A Place Called Wiregrass. The novel was released in April, 2002 and is currently in its third printing. A Place Called Wiregrass was named a Booksense 76 selection by members of the American Independent Booksellers Association as and is part of the southern literature curriculum at two universities. Michael's latest novel, Slow Way Home, will be released by Harper Collins on September 23 and his work can be seen in the southern anthology Stories From The Blue Moon Café II.

Michael and his wife, Melanie, reside in Fairhope, Alabama.

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