Make no mistake: Martha Bragg Picket is a headstrong southern woman with a rebellious spirit, a characteristic her son Michael shares. Yet to see her after almost twenty years of marriage, it might no longer seem clear. A Yankee contractor's arrival in town catalyzes her dissatisfaction, leading her to turn her life upside down—unaware that her son will follow suit. Both heartfelt and shrewdly humorous, this widely acclaimed first novel from author Fenton Johnson is an affecting look at one woman's reawakening and her son's coming of age in the heartland of America.
Fenton Johnson is the author of At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life, a New York Times Editors' Pick. He is author of the novels The Man Who Loved Birds; Scissors, Paper, Rock; and Crossing the River. In nonfiction, Johnson has published Geography of the Heart: A Memoir and Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey among Christian and Buddhist Monks. Geography received the American Library Association and Lambda Literary Awards for best LGBT Creative Nonfiction, while Keeping Faith received a Lambda Literary and Kentucky Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction. His collection Everywhere Home: A Life in Essays (2017) touches on topics as diverse as San Francisco in the AIDS epidemic to spirituality to a youthful encounter with Ike and Tina Turner. A regular contributor to Harper's Magazine, Johnson has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts in both fiction and nonfiction and has been featured on Terry Gross's Fresh Air. He has written the narrations and served as associate producer on several award-winning, internationally screened documentaries, among them Stranger with a Camera and La Ofrenda: Days of the Dead. He has taught in the graduate programs of Columbia, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, and San Francisco State University. He is currently emeritus professor at the University of Arizona and teaches writing workshops across the nation. He is currently writing the histories of his enslaved and slave-owning Kentucky ancestors as well as that of his great-grandfather, a Union soldier.
As rich and Southern as fried chicken gravy... full of sharply observed talk and manners.
Delightful to behold.... One of the pleasures of this story is the way almost nothing goes where it seems to be headed.... Most of all there is Martha, full-blown and irresistible, earthy and wise, meeting life more than halfway.
~San Francisco Chronicle
Johnson is a storyteller of distinction. He knows the regional, religious, and emotional insularity of his Kentucky characters and reveals them with sly humor.
A gallant and engaging heroine who, from the ashes of total defeat, rises again to win our hearts.