Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, the host of the 80+ episodes of Book Stew, a 30-minute video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, featuring authors, playwrights, voice artists, and journalists.
‘Olympus, Texas’ by Stacey Swann
There’s not a god or goddess in sight in this small Texas town, but there’s plenty of hubris. A very large contingent of characters does not diminish the impact or difficult sibling and marital conflict.
Let’s start with patriarch Peter; father to twins Artie (female, poorly named) and Arlo by Lee; and, with his wife Jane, father to Hap and March (men) and Thea. Got that?
March has a temporary violence derangement syndrome that seems to kick in mostly when his brother Hap is around, oh yeah, and he also has a fling with Hap’s wife Vera.
Arlo is a fairly successful singer and his twin Artie manages his career until she falls in love with Ryan, who works for Hap.
Ryan’s family, formerly prominent in Olympus, had a string of financial setbacks and is usurped by Peter, leaving bad blood that could doom Artie and Ryan’s romance.
On the surface, wife Jane has forgiven husband Peter his infidelities, but her boiling longterm resentment has a terrible impact on each child.
And then: a “hunting accident.”
In the tradition of Edna Ferber and Larry McMurtry’s Texas novels, this one sounds complicated, IS complicated, but will probably be the best damn family saga you read this year. The writing is glorious, upping the ante with every chapter, as each character’s inner compass (or lack thereof) is revealed and the reader’s sympathies move fluidly towards a satisfying ending.
QUOTE: “The women she knows split between those that pity her, those that judge her, and those that pity and judge her.”
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