Beautiful Dreamer

By Christopher Bigsby
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312355838, 192pp.)

Publication Date: August 22, 2006

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In a small Southern town, a white man tries to prevent a lynching and finds himself branded by the mob --- and worse, finds himself sheltering the dead man's son. When the killers come around to finish the job, the two victims are forced to flee across the country in the hopes of escaping men with nothing but vengeance on their minds.
Just one step behind the vigilantes a solitary lawman tracks the men as he wrestles with the choice to either turn the customary blind eye or to put a stop to the intolerable logic of racial hatred. As the point of view moves seamlessly between characters, Christopher Bigsby crafts what Booklist calls a "taut, poetic narrative that has all the hypnotic power of an incantation." 
Dark and gritty, Beautiful Dreamer traces the struggle between reluctant good and dedicated evil, where morality is a matter of life or death and the choices made have consequences as lasting as they are unexpected.

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER BIGSBY runs the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia in England and the Arthur Miller Centre International Writers Festival. He is the author of three novels and several works of criticism.

Praise For Beautiful Dreamer

PRAISE FOR BEAUTIFUL DREAMERBeautiful Dreamer is stylistically brilliant, and pitilessly gripping. I read it almost ferociously, fearing and anticipating its inevitable conclusion.”
--LOUIS DE BERNIERES, author of Birds Without Wings and Corelli’s Mandolin "An attractive and engaging tale."--DORIS LESSING, author of The Golden Notebook "Christopher Bigsby's Beautiful Dreamer is a tautly written and almost unbearably suspenseful parable of the tragedy of race relations in a backcountry Tennessee setting of some decades ago. It's a powerful Faulknerian vision made stark and compelling by its spare and pitiless language."
In the pages of this slim, fierce book lies a gripping tale of race and revenge executed with such lyrical intensity that I found it almost impossible to put down. Beautiful Dreamer invites the reader to both think and feel and amply rewards both. An immensely satisfying novel."
-- MARGOT LIVESEY, author of Banishing Verona
"Beautiful Dreamer ... has a tragic tension that recalls Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.”
Esquire (UK) "A timeless morality tale of humans battling against their worst instincts to free their better nature. ... Told through multiple narrators, it is taut and exciting as a thriller and yet deeper and more poetic.... This short book goes far beyond genre exercise to touch the decency that lies within, well, almost all of us." --The Times (UK)

"Beautifully, colloquially written... The climax is real edge-of-the-seat stuff." --The Bookseller (UK)
"His writing, often stark, perfectly reflects the hearts and minds of the central characters.... Extremely readable and hugely exciting." --Good Book Guide (UK)

PRAISE FOR PEARL "Bigsby demonstrates a flair for the light touch .... well-told, imaginative." --Publishers Weekly

"Alive with energy and invention" -- Mail on Sunday (UK)

"Bigsby has captured the mood of THE SCARLET LETTER precisely. Like Hawthorne, Bigsby uses symbolism, foreshadowing, and several fierce inner battles to set the gothic tone of this story. Hester is a mesmerizing book, leaving one with a taste for more. Many readers will want to read (or reread) THE SCARLET LETTER upon finishing this amazing work." -- Booklist

*STAR* British author Bigsby brilliantly channels Faulkner in this taut, poetic narrative that has all the hypnotic power of an incantation as it evokes race relations in rural Tennessee in the early part of the twentieth century. A nameless white man lies delirious with pain, having been beaten senseless and branded with a hot poker. His mistake was coming to the aid of a black man who had the temerity to walk through the front door of the local store. The black man's son is so traumatized from watching his father lynched that he can no longer speak. He tends to the white man, although he knows no good can come of it. When the Steadman brothers, the inbred "family of morons" who started the whole horrific chain of events, show up to finish the job, the white man and the black boy make a run for it. From the searing opening scene to its inevitable conclusion, this intense novel never loosens its grip. As the point of view shifts between characters, among them a disgusted lawman and an
-Joanne Wilkinson

*STAR* Harrowing and convincingly written, this tale of racism and murder in backwoods Tennessee in the early 1900s seems all the more noteworthy in that the author is British. (He runs the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia.) The novel begins in the middle of a chase, and through alternating viewpoints the reader learns the story of a white man, beaten and tortured and now on the run for his life, accompanied by a mute and epileptic black youth who had witnessed his father's lynching by the men who are after them. It seems that the father had used the whites-only entrance to a rural store, the wife of the proprietor had accused him of attacking her, and the white man, who happened to be there, had spoken in his defense. Using interior monolog and minimal conversation, the mostly nameless characters narrate the story from different angles, and gradually psychological attributes and personal histories emerge. There's the protagonist, a widower who
-Jim Coan

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