Catapult, 9781936787722, 200pp.
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Padgett Powell's National Book Award-nominated first novel (1984) about coming of age on Edisto, an undeveloped strip of coast between Savannah and Charleston, is "a startling book, full of new sights, sounds, and ways of feeling. . . .The book is subtle, daring, and brilliant" (Donald Barthelme).Padgett Powell's first novel (1984) is about coming of age on Edisto, an undeveloped strip of coast between Savannah and Charleston, a "named but never discovered place in the South." Simons Manigault ("You say it 'Simmons.' I'm a rare one-m Simons") lives with his mother, an eccentric professor known locally as the Duchess, who is convinced her twelve-year-old son can become a writer of genius. She has immersed Simons in the literary classics since birth and has given him free rein to gather material in such spots as a nightclub called Marvin's R.O. Sweet Shop and Baby Grand. At the center of Simons's life on Edisto is an enigmatic character who tutors the boy in the art of watching the world without presumption. "Taurus," as he is dubbed by Simons, acts as a father surrogate as well, taking his precocious young charge in stride. He leads him to, among other discoveries, his first prizefight, date, and hangover. The way Simons sees the world will change radically when he leaves his ad-lib life among the denizens of Edisto for the private schools and tennis tournaments of Hilton Head, South Carolina--the territory of his father, "The Progenitor." Using the combination of a child's run-on phrasing and the vigorous prose and deft comic touches of a writer who is sure of every step, Padgett Powell established himself as a vivid new American writer.