The morning Bill Becker awakes to find the butterfly tattoo bleeding on his chest, his upwardly mobile life begins its harrowing downward spiral. Exiled from a corporate career and from the failed marriage he left behind in a gated Charlotte community, Bill becomes obsessed with a tattooed dancer named Lucy, who is running from a trauma buried deep in her own past. Lucy and Bill wrap themselves in new skins of ink, wrought by the same artist, a “shaman” who convinces them that every design will alter their future. Ultimately, both Bill and Lucy must leave the city and return to the Carolina countryside to confront the skins they have shed many years ago.
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|Publisher:||Southern Fried Karma LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.88(d)|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Skin Artist is a beauty of a debut novel—surprising, tactile, sexy, and ambitious. Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, during a long hot summer of the late twentieth-century, the characters of this novel are transforming along with the city and its environs ahead of the millennium, searching for love and human connection in a rapidly changing Southland. Neither romantic nor cynical about the journey from rural to urban and back again, these characters grope for compassion anywhere it grows, from Great Uncle Olin’s home place to the shadow of the NationsBank Tower. The main character is Bill, an alcoholic whose search for a place to stay after his wife kicks him out structures the novel’s action. The novel’s unlikely prophets show up on Bill’s search Flannery O’Connor-style in unexpected forms that are often as darkly funny as they are uncomfortably close to revelatory: a new age tattoo parlor owner, a traveling steak salesman, the barkeep at the Jackpot where Bill’s love interest strips. Big-hearted but self-destructive and even cruel, Bill has traded a world of tractors, tasty casseroles, and faith, for one of Mercedes, mini-bars, and ink sales; by the end of the novel’s search for a place to call home, the gap between will be mapped literally onto Bill’s skin. Author George Hovis has spun the threads of a literary classic out of a city and landscape he knows well, and in some ways translates the life of one midsize southern city into a mirror view of the nation at a critical moment of economic and social change, much as Thomas Wolfe did with Asheville in Look Homeward, Angel. There’s much here to delight a reader with a connection to North Carolina and its literature, or, on the other hand to invite readers who don’t know that landscape to look closer. Reading it put me in mind of the first time I discovered Walker Percy, who mapped the national hunger onto southern Louisiana for his generation, but, as with Wolfe, it's just a hint of a haunt. Hovis has made Charlotte his very own. But, never mind all that for now, because I mostly wanted to say that, first and foremost, The Skin Artist is an engaging read about pain and redemptive love—a novel of ideas that may just make you break your heart laughing.