The Wake of Forgiveness
By Bruce Machart
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151014439, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
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Reminiscent of Kent Haruf and Cormac McCarthy, Bruce Machart’s debut novel is a dark family saga set in the American Southwest.
On a moonless Texas night in 1895, an ambitious young landowner suffers the loss of “the only woman he’s ever been fond of” when his wife dies during childbirth with the couple’s fourth son, Karel. The boy is forever haunted by thoughts of the mother he never knew, by the bloodshot blame in his father’s eyes, and permanently marked by the yoke he and his brothers are forced to wear to plow the family fields. From an early age, Karel proves so talented on horseback that his father enlists him to ride in acreage-staked horseraces against his neighbors. In the winter of 1910, Karel rides in the ultimate high-stakes race against a powerful Spanish patriarch and his alluring daughters: hanging in the balance are his father’s fortune, his brothers' futures, and his own fate.
BRUCE MACHART is the author of The Wake of Forgiveness. His fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, Story, One Story and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Best Stories of the American West. A graduate of the MFA program at Ohio State University, Machart is Assistant Professor of English at Bridgewater State University, and he lives in Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Texas is a tough place, and Karel Skala had a tough start in life. His mother died giving birth to him. His father never forgave him, and Karel never forgot that -- or her. The Wake of Forgiveness is the debut novel of Bruce Machart, a book that has been praised for its stunning prose, epochal story and piercing dialog. Host Scott Simon talks to Machart about his epic tale. More at NPR.org
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