Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When a Southern Anti-Hero Goes Home

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

When a Southern Anti-Hero Goes Home

Article excerpt

Edisto Revisited

By Padgett Powell

Henry Holt, 145 pp., $20 Padgett Powell made a noteworthy debut as a novelist in 1984 with "Edisto," named for the South Carolina coastal town where its precocious young narrator, Simons Manigault, negotiated the perplexing trials of growing up, aided and abetted, hampered and hindered by the example of his parents' dissolving marriage. Powell's fourth novel, "Edisto Revisited," features the same wry narrator, now a college graduate, returning to his old stamping ground, even though he knows better: "The reason you can't go home again is, of course, not that everything has changed but that almost nothing has changed," he remarks. The southern sense of place, in his opinion, is a myth: "the idea that some configuration of geography, property, and the attendant means that secured it for you was going to satisfy you was lunatic." This, however, does not prevent Simons from going home again, savoring his usual uncommunicative exchanges with his back-slapping, bigoted father and his more intimate, yet wary relationship with his hyper-literary mother, a boozy college professor who raised him on the classics and nurtured great expectations of him. More than many a protagonist to have borne the overused label of "anti-hero," Simons Manigault justly merits that dubious title. He's just graduated from Clemson, with a degree in architecture, a career he does not much want to pursue. Lamely trying to forestall the inevitable, he teams up with a college buddy in a short-lived foray into the fishing business, then tracks down his old mentor and one of his mother's ex-lovers, the cryptic Taurus, now working as a game warden in the Louisiana swamplands. Simons has set his sights on not setting his sights on anything. In accordance with what seem to be his mother's plans, he drifts into an affair with his first cousin, Patricia Hod, but is understandably taken aback on learning that she recently set fire to her own apartment. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.