Will Butterfield can't believe it. His 75–year–old mother, Holly, is drunk and threatening to jump off the roof. Again.
Holly and Fiona, another elderly relative, won't stop tormenting Will and his wife Elizabeth with their bizarre (though often amusing) antics. Between Will's worries about his bookstore, The Heart's Ease, and Elizabeth's troublesome high school students, dealing with "the crazies" has become just too much.
But then something unexpected happens –– Henry Ward, a neighborhood handyman, meets the two old women, and he, his daughter Alison, and grandchildren are drawn into the Butterfields' lives in surprising ways. Both a comedy and a love story –– a first for Bausch –– Thanksgiving Night is about the real meaning of family, and one particular clan that has many reasons to be thankful.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.95(d)|
About the Author
Richard Bausch is the author of nine other novels and seven volumes of short stories. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Playboy, GQ, Harper's Magazine, and other publications, and has been featured in numerous best-of collections, including the O. Henry Awards' Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South. In 2004 he won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.
Read an Excerpt
By Richard Bausch
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
From the first overlook of the Sky Line Drive, heading south, you can only see the old part of Point Royal--washed in hazy distance, an intricately laced aggregate of antique houses and white steeples, set among many shades of blue and green and tawny summer. A sleepy, lovely, Virginia country setting.
Up close there are, of course, the complications of the age.
Antebellum porches mixed in with two-car garages and fast-food chains; an Internet café in a glass-front, low-slung building within a block of a town hall that is almost two hundred years old--all of this across from a parking lot and a red-brick radio station with flags out front and a skinny seventy-foot tower behind.
On the radio station lately there's mostly talk, and the subject is invariably the president and his recent troubles. The call-in shows are full of moral outrage. The news, even now, six months after the Senate's acquittal, is still full of the names: Starr, Hyde, and the women, Slick Willy's women, all the way from back when he was governor of Arkansas to the uneasy present, with its rumors of war and the threat of general shutdowns as a result of Y2K. Religionists are growing more strident, and there's apocalyptic zaniness all around, starting with the Hale-Bopp suicide crowd, who expected that there would be a turnstile on thespaceship taking them beyond the stars, and so each one carried a ten-dollar roll of quarters on his person. The news media characterizes these people as intelligent. (One caustic voice on the radio points out that certainly the Hale-Bopp fruitcakes would look intelligent to the media.)
On the other side of the radio station, on a small, red-clay rise of ground, a strip mall that was built ten years ago languishes in weeds and wild flowers, crabgrass and dandelions; it's shut down and boarded, with postings advertising commercial space. The postings are wearing away in the weather.
Beyond the strip mall is a small used-book shop called The Heart's Ease.
Take a look at it now: this charmingly derelict-looking place, its windows stacked with the sun-faded spines of volumes, one on top of another as if they had all been arrested in the act of crowding to the openings to breathe. The paint is peeling on the porch, and the color of the trim is the exact shade of old paper. If you were to characterize the store or make a simile out of it, you might say it's like an elderly man nodding off to sleep. It faces into the sunny lot across the way, the gravel road veering to the left, toward the century-old brick-making factory, with its five house-sized stacks of new red bricks, and its weirdly attendant-seeming next-door neighbor, the ancient clapboard relic of a church, white-steepled Saint Augustine's. This church is a historic landmark, and is flanked by a shady lawn dotted with gravestones, carved dates and inscriptions going back to the eighteenth century. beloved mother; with the angels; lost to us.
It was once said that two people could leave at the same time from main street, one heading for the wildest hollow in the Blue Ridge and the other for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and both would arrive at their destination at about the same time.
Now, one travels only minutes to be in what feels like the tatters of the city, and the thin blue roads that wind up into the mountains are lined with apartment complexes.
The Shenandoah River runs along the town's western edge, and on some hot summer days, after a little rain, it's muddy and so slow-running as to seem calm. Because of the willows dipping their filamental branches at the edge, you can stand on the highway bridge that crosses there and swear, from the look of it, that there is nothing but woods all around. Signs along the bank warn against swimming or fishing.
On Main Street, just now, the sharp shadows make pretty angles. You feel, gazing upon the scene, that you saw it somewhere in a painting, if only you could remember which one. It's three o'clock in the afternoon. The end of August. Stillness. Not even an airplane in the sky. Some celestial creature landing here might think the whole world a quiet place, deserted or abandoned.
But now a little wind stirs; a scrap of paper rises in the street, and a camp bus full of altar boys from Saint Augustine's comes rumbling along, followed by an old Ford pickup, covered with dust, which turns off onto a side street. The radio is on loud in the truck, an evangelistic rant, a frantic baritone crying the terrors of a thousand years.
It's the dog days of summer nineteen ninety-nine. And God is coming.
At an angle from the corner of the only intersecting street of this part of town is a small, white house, with a little porch, flanked by other houses of the same stripe, all of them built in nineteen fifty-nine and nineteen-sixty, when the country was not even ten years out of one undeclared war and already at the beginning of a new one. In the small window of the east-facing bedroom, an elderly woman sits turning the pages of a magazine with a sharp, swiping motion, as if each page contributes to a growing sense of an affront to her sensibilities. Behind her, another woman, also elderly, stands and folds laundry that she absently lifts from a basket in a chair. She puts the laundry on the bed. There's something about her apparent nonchalance that seems studied, done for effect--now and again, she monitors the page-turning of the other. She's dressed to go out. The other wears a blue bathrobe.
These two are surrounded by emblems of religion that seem to exist in an atmosphere of neglect, like bric-a-brac: Christ praying in the garden on one wall, and facing out, with radiating heart . . .
Excerpted from Thanksgiving Night
by Richard Bausch
Copyright © 2006 by Richard Bausch.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is not a book to jump up and down about, but it is a very good story about a family and their extensions, a town; and ends with Thanksgiving dinner, period. However, the writing is wonderful, the chapters are easy and brief, the characters and the scenery will put you right there with them. I would recommed to those who just want a good story, but if you are looking for excitement, not here.
The characters are genuine and quirky. Family drama with some situations that are riveting; yet, you almost want to close your eyes so you don't have to watch what is happening. That is good writing. Would recommend this for anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.
I loved this book. The characters really came to life and you care what happens to each and every one of them.