Two downriver journeys, disparate in time and intent, alarmingly similar in increasing violence: When Robert Day discovers a French diary written by Octavius, an ex-slave who fled to Haiti well over a century before, he impulsively decides to imitate Octavius’s journey down Mississippi’s Pearl River to the Gulf of Mexico. This, in hopes of overcoming his own grief over his anthropologist wife, recently murdered by poachers in Africa. But as Robert floats down the river and translates the diary, he learns just how terribly violent young Octavius’s escape was, starting with the Bowie-knife murder of his master—and lover—after Octavius learned that the man intended to take on a wife. The escalating violence of Octavius’s river journey becomes reﬂected not only in Robert’s life, but in the lives of the three friends he asks to accompany him down the Pearl River.
ISBN: 978-1-931982-63-4 library binding $26 Sale $13.00
ISBN: 978-1-931982-64-1 trade paper $14.95 Sale $7.50
Scott Ely was born in Atlanta, GA, and he moved to Jackson, MS when he was eight. He served in Vietnam (somewhere in the highlands near Pleiku). He graduated with an MFA from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He teaches fiction writing at Winthrop University in South Carolina. His previous book publications include STARLIGHT (Weidenfeld & Nicolson); PITBULL (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Penguin); OVERGROWN WITH LOVE (University of Arkansas Press); THE ANGEL OF THE GARDEN (University of Missouri Press). His work has been translated in Italy, Germany, Israel, Poland, and Japan. There were also UK editions of the novels published.
Robert Day stood in
a cloud of dust and surveyed the empty attic. The dust smelled
of cypress. Stands of cypress grew along the Pearl River whose
banks bordered his front yard. He imagined their feathery tops,
their branchless trunks rising smoothly out of the dark water,
the polished knees ranged in circles about the parent trees.