The Amalgamation Polka (Vintage Contemporaries)
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Born in 1844 in bucolic upstate New York, Liberty Fish is the son of fervent abolitionists as well as the grandson of Carolina slaveholders even more dedicated to their cause. Thus follows a childhood limned with fugitive slaves moving through hidden passageways in the house, and the inevitable distress that befalls his mother whenever letters arrive from her parents. In hopes of reconciling the familial disunion, Liberty escapes--first into the cauldron of war and then into a bedlam more disturbing still. In a vibrant display of literary achievement, Stephen Wright brings us a Civil War novel unlike any other.
erected around it, gnarled roots of an ancient complexity rising like a giant’s petrified muscle out of the packed dirt floor, the stump’s circular annulated top, planed and sanded, serving admirably as a low but permanently balanced table, now bearing half a dozen tin plates nailed into the wood to prevent theft and, seated at precarious angles in their own tallow, a pair of smoking candle ends. On a pile of straw in the corner, visibly shivering beneath a sheet of tattered and begrimed tent
table reciting, ‘She walks in beauty like one so bright,’ or however it goes, I have such a poor head for all that dreamy claptrap.” “‘She walks in beauty like the night,’” corrected Rose, the blood rising in her downy cheeks to produce a tint that mimicked her name. “Really,” declared the elder Mrs. Thorne, aiming her lorgnette in Thatcher’s direction, “I fail to see why these preposterous meals must be conducted like horse races. Are prizes awarded to the swiftest, or is it that everyone is
soft, cozy place where she, too, could curl up and rest. “Chloe, how would you like a nice bouquet of flowers for yourself?” “Why, yes, Missus, I sure would. I’d like some pretty in my house.” And with enormous effort and wheezing she began to rise. “No, Chloe, stay right where you are. I’ll go inside and get the cutting shears.” As Roxana approached the back gallery, she saw her mother standing regally in the doorway, a scented handkerchief tied over her nose and mouth. “Roxana,” she said,
examples enough of the tangled skein of misfortune and accident that had led him from bucolic upstate New York to the threshold of her hospitable door, yet withholding from her the one crucial event that had set him on his odyssey toward the ancient maternal homestead in the Carolina marshes, saying no more than that he wished to meet the grandparents he had never known. “I hope you find them well,” said Olivia, obviously thinking of something else. “Yes” was all he could summon up in response.
kin.” “Are you Asa Maury?” “What’s in a name?” He regarded his visitor with detached bemusement. On a shelf above his head, ranked according to size, stood an orderly row of gleaming skulls of various species and dimensions, in silent contrast to the persistent activity taking place within the numerous wire cages scattered haphazardly about this cramped den, where growled, cried, scuttled and scampered an extraordinary collection of exotic creatures feathered, furred and scaled. “Have I