The Bible Salesman
By Clyde Edgerton
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316117517, 256pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2008
List Price: $23.99*
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Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing two chain saws and 1600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the Army during the Second World War. Back on the road in post-war North Carolina, a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up hitch-hiking Henry Dampier, an innocent nineteen-year-old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as just the associate he needs--one who will believe Clearwater is working as an F.B.I. spy; one who will drive the cars Clearwater steals as Clearwater follows along in another car at a safe distance. Henry joyfully sees a chance to lead a dual life as Bible salesman and a G-man.
During his hilarious and scary adventures we learn of Henry's fundamentalist youth, an upbringing that doesn't prepare him for his new life. As he falls in love and questions his religious training, Henry begins to see he's being used--that the fun and games are over, that he is on his own in a way he never imagined.
Clyde Edgerton is the author of seven bestsellers, including, Raney, Walking Across Egypt, and Where Trouble Sleeps. Five of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books. A musician and songwriter, he lives with his wife, Kristina, and their children in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
"sublime...a deeply satisfying novel, and great fun."
-Post and Courier (Charleston)
"How good it feels to throw back one's head and howl with a great comic novel. The 'burial tuck' alone should make The Bible Salesman a classic."
"Tired of $4 a gallon gasoline, food riots in poor nations, climate change, the sniping of the presidential race, the subprime mortgage meltdown, and the tangled interconnectedness of all the world's problems? For relief, pick up Clyde Edgerton's new novel, The Bible Salesman...Despite all the Southern Gothic touches-poor Henry has to bury the same dead cat twice-The Bible Salesman is really just an escapist romp at heart, perfect for a lazy summer's afternoon."
"North Carolina native Edgerton has been writing winningly about the rural South, slyly skewering the place he loves, for more than 25 years. The Bible Salesman skillfully employs all the devices its author has honed over the years-a fine ear for dialogue, a love for the South and its people, and a gently modulated wit-to produce another winner."
"Hilarious. . . . Reading Edgerton's book is much the same as that Southern experience of sitting in front of a fireplace or on a porch and listening to older relatives tell tales. The Bible Salesman combines the sweet and funny stories of growing up in the South with the humorous and frightening adventures of a life of crime."
"Irresistible...Edgerton is a master of comic timing, and The Bible Salesman is a font of wildly creative comedy.... But it's the novel's quiet, introspective moments that are most memorable....Dampier may be a simple country boy, but his aspirations lift him-and us-into higher worlds of richly imagined possibility."
-Richmond Times Dispatch
"As much as the crime story takes center stage here, it's in these extended flashbacks to Dampier's history that Edgerton shows some of his best writing: quick, nostalgic glimpses of a lost era, told mainly from a child's wide-eyed perspective-but infused with a master storyteller's understanding of the adult world as well.... Warm and winning."
-Raleigh Metro Magazine
"Edgerton is a master of not only describing small-town life, but also of making the reader long for it...Edgerton has great affection for his characters, and while he makes us laugh at their eccentricities, he also provides his readers with enough substance and vulnerability to fall in love with them....one great joy ride."
-The News & Observer
"If you've ever read any of Clyde Edgerton's wonderful books, you know the characters rule supreme. The same remains true of his newest novel, The Bible Salesman... The character you'll remember most is a recently passed-away cat named Bunny."
"A vivid and affecting portrait of the way many of us struggle -- and, when possible, take comfort -- in the real world."--PEOPLE on Lunch at the Picadilly (2003)
"Clyde Edgerton's storytelling is sublime....The Bible Salesman is a deeply satisfying novel, and great fun."
-The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
"Edgerton mines the orthodoxy of his youth in rural North Carolina to find humor in an awkward young man wrestling with the temptations."
-The Roanoke Times