Friday, August 22, 2008

Five Minutes with Maggie...

The Bible Salesman tells the tale of twenty-year-old Henry Dampier, an adorably naïve and diligent boy who travels the South after World War II selling bibles door-to-door. Along the way he crosses paths with Preston Clearwater, a slick criminal who looks a little like Clark Gable and wins over Henry through a series of lies: he works for the FBI, he needs an assistant, he's breaking up a car-theft ring, can Henry drive? Excited by the possibility of being a real live G-man, Henry tags along and assists Clearwater while selling Bibles on the side. Along the way, we meet an eclectic mix of Southern characters, including a love interest for Henry, a roadside fruit stand girl named Marleen Green.

This story is as touching as it is humorous. Henry is loveable and trustworthy, and throughout the book, you can't help but smile and shake your head at his mistakes and triumphs. The book is broken up into sections that alternate between Henry's present – his adventures with Clearwater – and his religious upbringing. Peppered throughout the book are Bible passages that young Henry tries to decipher. His ongoing analysis of Biblical passages adds an extra hilarious, insightful layer that demonstrates the true depth of Henry's character.

Edgerton's stylistic writing captures the vibe of the post-war South. The dialogue especially evokes the dusty roads that traversed the South, in an era where men wore suits and hats, women did their chores in housedresses, and twenty-year-old boys were wide open to possibilities and the mysteries of love.--Maggie Marton



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