Lindsey’s incandescent debut novel (after the collection We Come to Our Senses) captures a riveting slice of life from the deep South, spanning the 1960s to the present in fictional Pitchlynn, Miss. It begins and ends with Colleen, an Iraq war vet shadowed by memories of combat, pregnant with twins, and making ends meet with her husband, Derby Friar, a house painter. Derby’s father, Hale Hobbs—Derby took his mother’s maiden name to distance himself from his father—is making headlines with his retrial for the murder of a young black man back in the civil rights era. Derby’s boss, JP, has moved from Chicago to Pitchlynn with his infant daughter, and with Derby’s help is overhauling the area’s famed Wallis mansion, renowned for its centuries-old magnolia tree. JP’s recently deceased wife, Dru, was heir to the home, and he resolves to get back at the town for the way Dru was treated after the accidental death of her cousin by giving the “stodgy white manor” a mid-century palette rather than a proper restoration. Colleen, afraid she won’t be able to give her children a good future, tries to get Derby to spend less time working for JP. Amid the distraction of town drama over the Wallis project, a catastrophic accident at the Friar household leads Colleen to confront her demons. In dazzling prose, the author lassos complex subjects with acuity, from the legacy of racism in Mississippi to internecine class wars, the horror of combat, and the joy and terror of becoming a mother. This is a consummate portrait of human fragility and grim determination. (July)
Some Go Home has the grit, power, and soul of Janis Joplin and the hardscrabble depth of Johnny Cash. Odie Lindsey brings Pitchlynn and north Mississippi to life better than anybody’s businessyou will recognize the landscape, the language, and the people as real…Some Go Home will have a long and happy life in the American mind. This novel is nothing short of thrilling.”
Some Go Home is an extraordinary novel. It is lived-in in its particulars, told in energetic and evocative prose, and has as much insight into the peculiar ways the past informs the present as any book you’re likely to encounter this year. But more than that, Odie Lindsey seems to have a notion about what all that might mean for where we’re headed…in a world as strange as ours in a time as strange as this.”
Some Go Home is both timely and timeless, its prose crackling and sparkling with energy and humor and characters who by the end are as real as the people next door. Terrific, just plain terrific.”
Some Go Home reckons with blood ties, buried secrets, and the poisons of possession, reminding us that race and class sit inside each other, in permanent headlock. This is staccato realism; these sentences pop in the mouth like blackberries…To make fiction you need truth, and Lindsey offers it here in crystalline quantity.”
Every page of Some Go Home blooms with verdant, undeniable, heart-lifting life. A truly welcome addition to the literature of the New American South.”
DEBUT Combat veteran Colleen is trying to escape a troubled past, while husband Derby is trying to escape the shadow of his father, Hare Hobbs, who was thought guilty but not convicted of a civil rights-era murder. As Colleen fights addictions, Derby busies himself with the restoration of a mansion in Pitchlynn, MS, a town trying to reinvent itself as "quaint." Mansion owner DJ wants to do it in contemporary colors, which brings on the ire of local bluenose Susan Geoge Wallis. The mansion is at the emblematic center of this highly realistic novel of local color, with several plot lines developing almost as a series of novellas and even tracing back to the 1964 murder. Twins almost make things better for Colleen and Derby, but not quite—Colleen takes off for a multiyear car trip to find herself, which she seems to do. Meanwhile, DJ gives up and returns to Chicago, and Hare Hobbs, awash in publicity around a retrial for the murder, goes out in a blaze, but not of glory. VERDICT Smooth and evocative, the writing truly brings the town of Pitchlynn to life. A fine first novel in the lasting tradition of Southern fiction.—Robert E. Brown, Oswego, NY
Memories of a 1964 murder in Mississippi are forced back to the surface, reopening old wounds over race and class.
Lindsey’s ambitious debut novel—an admirable bid to compete with William Faulkner at his own game—concerns two forms of PTSD. Colleen, a white Iraq War vet, has returned home to the small town of Pitchlynn (“the poorest slice of the poorest state in the nation”) and is struggling toward normalcy. After a period of drinking and drugging laid her low, she’s started a tenuous new life with her husband, Derby, with whom she’s pregnant with twins. (Not that it keeps her from sneaking the occasional cigarette.) The other form of PTSD involves all of Pitchlynn: Derby’s father, Hare, is being retried for the murder of Gabe, a black man who stoked resentment among the white locals for owning land outright on a sharecropper farm. Derby has disowned Hare, but his half brother, Sonny, is sure Hare is innocent, though his efforts to defend dad’s honor end when his Cessna crashes, sending him to the ICU. Amid the anxiety over the retrial, another battle is brewing over the mansion once owned by the family that may have commissioned Hare to lynch Gabe; a massive magnolia tree on the property, and the abuses it receives over the course of the story, serves as a symbol for this complex interplay of blood and memory. Perhaps too complex: Some characters are underdrawn, as the ties among Hare’s family, friends, and enemies acquire ever thickening knots. (An issue in Faulkner’s fiction too, of course.) But the novel has some sturdy support beams in its central characters, especially Colleen, whose journey from soldier to almost–drug casualty to beauty queen to conflicted new mom is bracing at every turn.
A compassionate and complex debut, assuredly encompassing post–Iraq War fiction and old-fashioned Southern gothic.