Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jesus Speaks in Red

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading Clyde Edgerton’s 1987 novel, Walking Across Egypt to an elderly friend. This morning we came to the final page, leaving Marianne completely charmed by the story and characters, eager for another of Mr Edgerton’s wonderful books. I felt some personal satisfaction about that, knowing I had chosen well in picking out a book for her.

Mattie Rigsbee is a church-going, independent and strong-minded little old lady of seventy-eight, who will feed anyone appearing at her back door, including birds and dogs. She lives her life pretty much according to the lines from Matthew 25:40, ‘…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of the brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Mattie is determined to see good in other people.

A stray dog at Mattie’s back door is catalyst to an alternately funny and touching story of getting old, of caring for others and always searching out the good in others. The dog is Mattie’s first stray, but the little mutt leads her to an orphaned 16 year-old boy in the local juvenile correctional facility, who after meeting Mattie, soon comes to crave more of her pound cake, and who also convinces himself that she is his grandmother. On the other side of the fence, Mattie believes she might be able to help the boy turn his life around, and Wesley, the boy, believes she could be his ticket out of the hoosegow. This desire by one to help, and by the other to be helped has consequences approaching the hilarious.

One underlying issue the story illuminates is the honest and heartfelt charity of one Christian woman, and the reaction she faces from members of her church. It is a poke at those Sunday morning Christians who conveniently forget the teachings of the Bible when it threatens their complacency; people who read scripture with little idea of its meaning.

Along with the weightier questions of aging, helping others and neighborly goodness, the book tells a story of southern cooking and hospitality which will have your mouth watering.

The writer tells his story chiefly through dialogue and the thoughts of his characters, who speak in word and idiom straight from a southern grandmother’s kitchen. A southerner myself, I can vouch for the authenticity of details, as well as the dialogue. The story is simply written without pretense or reliance on clever literary fireworks, and throbs with down home charm from page one to page last. If you’re looking for a book about good people who live uninfluenced by the darker corners of human behavior, then pick up a copy of Walking Across Egypt.

1 comment:

  1. Can't download this book on Amazon Kindle! How can we ask them to get this book


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America