A river called Long Man has coursed through East Tennessee from time immemorial, bringing sustenance to the people who farm along its banks and who trade among its small towns. But as Long Man opens, the Tennessee Valley Authority's plans to dam the river and flood the town of Yuneetah for the sake of progress--to bring electricity and jobs to the region--are about to take effect. Just a few days remain before the river will rise, and most of the town has been evacuated. Among the holdouts is a young, headstrong mother, Annie Clyde Dodson, whose ancestors have lived for generations on her mountaintop farm; she'll do anything to ensure that her three-year-old daughter, Gracie, will inherit the family's land. But her husband wants to make a fresh start in Michigan, where he's found work that will bring the family a more secure future. As the deadline looms, a storm as powerful as the emotions between them rages outside their door. Suddenly they realize that Gracie is nowhere to be found. Has the little girl simply wandered off into the rain? Or has she been taken by Amos, the mysterious drifter who has come back to Yuneetah, perhaps to save his hometown in a last, desperate act of violence?
Suspenseful, visceral, gorgeously told, Long Man is a searing portrait of a tight-knit community brought together by change and crisis, and of one family facing a terrifying ticking clock. A novel set in history that resonates with our own times, it is a dazzling and unforgettable tour de force.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Like a classical myth or a painting by Thomas Hart Benton, Greene’s second novel (after Bloodroot), set in the summer of 1936, transforms a period of cataclysmic history into a gorgeous, tragic tale filled with heroes and heroines. After the Tennessee Valley Authority builds a dam to electrify rural Appalachia, the river that folks have always called Long Man rises a little more with every turn of the page, and most of the families in the town of Yuneetah, Tenn., are long gone, scattered to other cities to take up factory jobs. In days, the hardscrabble farm fields they abandoned will be overcome by water, and Annie Clyde Dodson’s family farm, too, will end up at the bottom of the lake. Only Annie Clydewon’t leave; she’s determined to hold out so that her three-year-old daughter Gracie can inherit her ancestral land. But Gracie disappears with her dog Rusty during a terrible storm, the floodwaters rising by the hour. Only a few—the sheriff, Annie Clyde’s aunt Silver, and the mysterious drifter Amos, among them—are left to help Annie Cylde and Gracie’s dad, James, search through the tangle of sodden woods and fields already knee high in muck. Greene’s enormous talent animates the voices and landscape of East Tennessee so vividly, and creates such exquisite tension, that the reader is left as exhausted and devastated as the characters in this unforgettable story. (Feb.)