The reader must know, before I say anything else, that I am a tough critic of fiction. Mostly because I like *very* little modern writing, and I loathe the story-within-a story-that-has-no-end convention that is so common. If I want to read tortured prose, I will read Kafka. So, as a matter of course, I hand off all fiction that comes across my desk to other readers, they are far more generous than I am.
Glorious, however, never made it off my desk. It caught me from the earliest pages, and held me all throughout. It's a tough read, not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter.
Ever wonder what goes on behind the sleepy facade of those small towns you cruise through on state highways? Snodgrass' fictional town of Overton, Arkansas shreds through the facade in this excellent story of madness, evil, redemption, and growing up.
Well-rooted in history, Snodgrass' world is factual, and scary. Overton, for example, was founded as a stop on the Underground Railway. Free men would purchase slaves, bring them back to Overton, teach them a trade and then set them free. . . at least that is the story they tell. Young Glorious Wilkes, the eponymous heroine, is like many children who sense the wrong all around her, but feels powerless to stop it. Stan Gilmer thinks that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is talking to him directly through the radio and telling him how the town needs to change. Meanwhile, his step-daughter, Emily, has a physical tic that many believe is caused by the devil. She and Glorious become friends, both outcasts in this small town.
This is not an easy book to read. This is no Harry Potter tale, with magic as the answer to the problems. The children in Glorious have a difficult time. I would even say that for some people, it may be triggering. Reading about sexism, racism, and madness is never pleasant, but who said that fiction needs to be fun?
In the interest of full disclosure, Patricia Snodgrass is one of the reviewers here at Facing North. But before you think I would slant my review to favor her, let me nip that in the bud. I promise you that I would NOT write a review rather than write one that lied about what I think.
Glorious is chewy and strong. It’s not for everyone, but I recommend it for anyone who needs their reading to be more like the world really is, unfortunately.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Patricia Snodgrass
Mundania Press, 2010
$12.95 paper, 4.99 ebook download