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St. Dale

St. Dale

4.4 13
by Sharyn McCrumb

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The Dale Earnhardt Memorial Pilgrimage is the last trip Judge Bekasu Holifield would have chosen for her vacation. But this year it's her sister Justine's turn to make their plans, and soon Bekasu's boarding a silver cruise bus for a tour of Southern stock car speedways with Justine, their cousin Cayle, and a group of strangers--all of whose lives have somehow been


The Dale Earnhardt Memorial Pilgrimage is the last trip Judge Bekasu Holifield would have chosen for her vacation. But this year it's her sister Justine's turn to make their plans, and soon Bekasu's boarding a silver cruise bus for a tour of Southern stock car speedways with Justine, their cousin Cayle, and a group of strangers--all of whose lives have somehow been touched by the legendary racer they never met. . .

For Shane McKee, the tour is a chance to get married at the speedway with his hero there in spirit. New York stockbroker Terence Palmer has made the trip to honor his only link with the father he never knew. Rev. Bill Knight, whose hobby is medieval pilgrimages, agrees to chaperone a dying child--and finds himself on a strangely familiar journey of faith and devotion.

Bekasu begins connecting with her fellow travelers in unexpected ways. But she's not the only one. As the bus rolls down an uncertain road, prayers will be answered, secrets will be revealed, bonds will be forged, and no one will leave this journey of self-discovery quite the same.

"One of McCrumb's finer achievements."
--Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News

"A wild ride! Sharyn McCrumb has done it again."
--Ward Burton, winner of the Daytona 500

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A group of stock car racing fans embarks on a bus tour of Southern speedways-seven states in eight days-as a tribute to legendary NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt in this meandering road novel modeled after the Canterbury Tales. Harley Claymore, a down-and-out race car driver who yearns to be reinstated, is a tour guide with an encyclopedic knowledge of spectacular races and risk-loving drivers. His "Where are you folks from?" introduces a diverse group of tour participants: Karen and Shane plan to be married at the first stop, where the bride's Wiccan mother will be waiting, and the groom will try to come to terms with his grief over the death of his hero, Dale, in the 2001 Daytona 500; longtime fan Jim, married 47 years to Arlene, hopes her incipient Alzheimer's won't spoil their enjoyment of the tour; Bill Knight, an Episcopalian priest in smalltown Canterbury, N.H., is chaperone for a dying orphan who was selected for a Last Wish trip; Nebraska resident Ray has proudly plowed his alfalfa field with a giant three (Dale's racing number). Veteran McCrumb provides a lively illustration of the cult of celebrity and offers instructive speculation about the human need for heroes. Minimal drama and suspense, however, will make this best suited to those who thrill at the sight of a memorial number three. Agent, Dominick Abel. (Feb. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Wave the checkered flag, 'cause this one's headed for the victory lane! McCrumb (Ghost Riders) gambles on a Canterbury Tales-inspired novel about secular sainthood set in the world of NASCAR. Led by a washed-up stockcar driver, 13 pilgrims from diverse backgrounds set out in August 2002 on a Dale Earnhardt bus tour. In roughly a week's time, the group visits each major southeastern speedway, leaving memorial wreaths for "Number 3" en route. As the transforming trip progresses, the stories of this faithful group, Dale, other legendary drivers, and the history and lore of stock car racing are shared. Earnhardt, like Elvis and Princess Di, drew millions to him in life; his death in February 2001 only served to increase his magnetism as the embodiment of the American dream. McCrumb's latest should attract a large and varied following, just as NASCAR does, now one of the top three U.S. sports. [See also the Q&A with McCrumb, above left.-Ed.]-Rebecca Kelm, Steely Lib., Northern Kentucky Univ., Highland Heights Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a career marked by strange, wonderful stories (Ghost Riders, 2003, etc.), McCrumb offers her strangest yet: a modern-day Canterbury Tales with Dale Earnhardt replacing Thomas a Becket. The Number Three Pilgrimage, as Bailey Travel bills it, takes 13 pilgrims, all Harry Bailey could get racetrack tickets for, on a journey through the NASCAR strongholds of the Southeast-racetracks steeped in the lore of the Intimidator and his contemporaries-under the wing of former journeyman driver Harley Claymore. Harley hopes to use the tour to climb back into the circuit. Wall Street broker Terence Palmer is using his late father's tickets for himself and Sarah Nash, his dad's neighbor, to connect with the faraway parent he never knew. Shane McKee's taking advantage of the trip to get hitched under Dale's ghostly eye. Rev. Bill Knight is squiring ten-year-old Matthew Hinshaw, whose dying wish the trip is fulfilling. Judge Bekasu Holifield, her thrice-married sister Justine, and their cousin Cayle Warrenby are just out for a good time, though Cayle's convinced that Earnhardt came back from the grave to fix her ailing car on an isolated stretch of North Carolina roadway. In between pauses to lay memorial wreaths at Bristol, Martinsville, Mooresville, Rockingham, Lowe's, Talladega, Atlanta, Daytona and Darlington, they swap capsule summaries of their lives and brief testimonials to their hero. "I've always thought saints must be like that," Knight recalls a friend telling him, and Sarah adds, "Never knew the worth of him until he died." McCrumb has much to say about secular sainthood, but her fondness for aphorism and her split allegiance to her pilgrims and the object of their veneration work againstEarnhardt's, or even Chaucer's, momentum. Still, this book of moments is required reading for anybody who still mourns Number Three-or who wonders what the fuss is about.

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4.24(w) x 6.78(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Sharyn McCrumb lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge less than a hundred miles from where her family settled in 1790 in the Smoky Mountains.

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In her newest novel, St. Dale, Sharyn McCrumb takes her readers on a memorable pilgrimage. Transplanting The Canterbury Tales pilgrims to 2002, she transforms them into grieving Dale Earnhardt fans who wish to pay tribute to the Intimidator, find solace for their grief, and maybe even receive a miracle along the way. Those who have traveled with McCrumb before, as well as ¿rookies¿ to her work, will not be disappointed. St. Dale includes McCrumb¿s trademark rapier wit, delightfully eccentric characters (who always remind readers of people we really know), and careful plotting. McCrumb also brings to the mix her remarkable capacity for research that has so enthralled readers of her Ballad novels. She leaves no stone unturned in her quest for information, whether the topic is Civil War firearms or search and rescue operations in rural counties. She has conducted similarly painstaking research in understanding the world of NASCAR, and the result is a realistic, yet enchanting, novel that will delight all readers from those who can cite statistics of every race to those who think ¿NASCAR is a former president of Egypt.¿ Likewise, those who can still recite the prologue The Canterbury Tales (in Middle English) and those who don¿t know Geoffrey Chaucer from Geoff Bodine will both fall in love with her pilgrims, who include a Palmer, a Reeve, a Franklin, and a Knight, along with his Squire When she occasionally takes factual liberties for the sake of her story, she mentions in her author¿s notes the actual facts. As always, she takes pains to credit those who helped her acquire the necessary information. All in all, St. Dale is a wonderful ride that works on a variety of levels. While those who do understand her marvelous in-jokes (both from the world of Chaucer and the world of NASCAR) may have richer experience reading the novel, even those who do not know ¿whereof she speaks¿ will find the novel a hard-to-put-down read that may lead them to take a second, more thoughtful look at that dusty book on the shelf with the opening lines of ¿Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote...¿ or that sport that looks like ¿just a bunch of cars driving in a circle.¿ St. Dale is an undisputed winner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to force myself to put this book down. I will never forget my first race trip after Dale passed. We were walking up to our seats at Charlotte and suddenly I could hardly breath, and then the tears just came like a sudden downpour in the middle of summer. Whether you are a race fan or not you will love this book. It touches the heart of good, decent people and proves that you just never know who will be gatherd around the TV or radio on any given Sunday.
Mt_Bluebird More than 1 year ago
Sharyn McCrumb has a way with creating characters that can be related to. In St. Dale she brings together a bus load of people on a memorial trip in honor of the late Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt. It's a hodgepodge of personalities, all with very personal reason's to be on the memorial tour. Heart warming, funny, sentimental, tragic and full of Nascar and driver antedotes and trivia. I felt like I was right there on the bus with them! This book is not a romantic love story. However it IS a love story for those who still feel the tragic loss of one of Nascars greatest drivers, Dale Earnhardt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say I have never been interested in NASCAR or car racing in general, but Sharyn McCrumb's St. Dale uses those subjects brilliantly as the backdrop for this modern day pilgrimage tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had no idea what to expect from St. Dale, but what I did get was more than I could ever expect. It's a beautiful book that is deep and heart-warming. Highly recommended on any list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fun book for all readers, whether they follow Nascar or not. There are bits of information throughout the book and one of the fun things for someone unfamiliar with racing would be to see if they can figure out what is fact and what is fiction. For those with plenty of racing knowledge under their belts, this book will have them shaking their heads, saying, 'yes, I remember that time'....'yes, I was at that race..or...I saw that on tv.' For this reader, who was a Dale Earnhardt fan from the very beginning, it was a bittersweet journey that I took right along with the 13 people on the Earnhardt Memorial tour!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book!! Even if you are not a NASCAR fan, the characters in the book all have their own interesting stories. Very different from her mountain books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a college course. I was in shock at how poorly it was written. I did not like it. Yes some aspects were ok, but right when it does start getting good...it ended. I hope that the next semester gets a better book.