Welcome To Thebesby Glendon Swarthout
Welcome To Thebes was Glendon Swarthout's one naughty book. It is based upon an actual case of multiple underaged rape which happened in the 1950's in the small town of Lowell, Michigan, a half hour east of Grand Rapids, where the author grew up. Readers might remember Grace Metalious's bestseller from 1956, Peyton Place, which became a hit film, then a sequel novel… See more details below
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Welcome To Thebes was Glendon Swarthout's one naughty book. It is based upon an actual case of multiple underaged rape which happened in the 1950's in the small town of Lowell, Michigan, a half hour east of Grand Rapids, where the author grew up. Readers might remember Grace Metalious's bestseller from 1956, Peyton Place, which became a hit film, then a sequel novel and TV miniseries, and find literary similarities. But again, this is an example of a fine author taking a true story and fictionalizing it mightily to tie up rough ends into a more dramatic tale.
The scarifying events of Sewell Smith's youth had left him shattered and embittered. On his return to his home town of Thebes, Michigan, morally and financially bankrupt from a writing career in films, these early experiences began to take on a different hue, no less corrosive but illuminating the moral climate of the place. In the background are the sly seduction of a lonel high school girl, the mental derangement and commitment of Sewell's mother, his father's strange death, the boy's malicious acts of vandalism, his flight and Army enlistment, his brilliant war record,his successful novel,his meteoric Hollywood career and his return to Thebes. Fate hands Sewell the means of crucifying the local leaders who he hates, whent he dissolute mother of a fourteen-year-old girl revealsto him that one of these town pillars has corrupted her little daughter. As it turns out, six of the town's elders are also involved with the girl.
As Sewell's ruthless plan evolves, we learn in flashbacks and belated revelations the innermost secrets of this community, which are universal in their human meanings. We can see Everytown in Thebes, and perhaps some readers will say, "there but for the grace of God...."
And here's another good review....
"This is not a quiet book about a quiet village. It is a violent book about a town badly scarred by violence. Suicide, madness, multiple rape, depravity all figure in its pages. Swarthout's language is an odd mixture of the harsh, uncompromising and the scholarly. Scores of recondite words mingle with the boldest of Anglo-Saxon terms. But the classical has always existed amid the vulgar. The writing, however, is consistently powerful. And the tale never palls....Welcome To Thebes will shock some. It will offend others. And it may anger many. But it will be read."
Gerald Elliott, Grand Rapids, Michigan Press
- Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
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