Like Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, this is told in several voices; like Faulkner, this is the fetid South only post-Katrina; like Faulkner an old woman is dying and her family flutter like dust motes and like Faulkner this is novel writing of the highest order. The undead linger, seen by some. There are lynchings and someone is skinned alive. An endless car journey through nowhere backwater towns, with a remorselessly puking child to fetch a man from prison. And slowly the approaching death of the matriarch works like the formation of a black hole sucking the family inwards.
This is the first of Ward’s work that I’ve read, it won’t be the last. Flights of stunning lyricism abut earthy monosyllabic conversation. This book is close to extraordinary. I feel sure that Ward will write something extraordinary, someday, probably soon.