Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pg. 69: Bret Lott's "Ancient Highway"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Bret Lott's Ancient Highway.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of Jewel and The Difference Between Women and Men comes a haunting novel of home, family, and the pursuit of lost dreams. Ancient Highway brilliantly weaves together the hopes and regrets of three characters from three generations as they reconcile who they are and who they might have been.

In 1925, a fourteen-year-old boy leaves his family’s farm and hops a boxcar in a dusty Texas field, heading for Hollywood and a life in the “flickers.”

In 1947, a ten-year-old girl aches for a real home with a real family in a wide-open space, far from the crowded Los Angeles streets where her handsome cowboy father chases stardom and her mother holds a secret.

In 1980, a young man just out of the Navy visits his elderly yet colorful grandparents in Los Angeles, eager to uncover his family’s silent history.

For the Holmeses, a longing for something else–another place, a second chance–seems to run in the family DNA. From Earl’s journey west toward Hollywood glory, to his daughter Joan’s wish for a normal existence away from the bright lights, to his grandson Brad’s yearning for truth, this deep-rooted desire sustains them, no matter how much the goal eludes them. But ultimately, in each generation, a family crisis forces a turning away from the horizon and the acceptance of a reality that is by turns harsh and healing.

Inspired by stories of his own family, Bret Lott beautifully renders the lives of ordinary people with extraordinary faith in a mesmerizing and finely wrought tale of love and letting go.
Among the early praise for Ancient Highway:
“A chance to visit a country of grace where the twisted roads of American literature seldom lead us . . . We can only admire the way Lott . . . creates and differentiates so many characters and sets them into action so naturally.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Bret Lott’s writings tell us about the value of family, even when those relationships burst at their psychic seams. Mostly, though, Lott’s fiction takes us into a world marked by traditional values of lasting love, honor and respect. . . . Lott’s majestic prose, with its biblical cadences, further distinguishes this capacious parable of enduring grace and love.”
The Charlotte Observer
Read more about Ancient Highway and Bret Lott's other work at his Random House webpage.

Bret Lott's books include the novels A Song I Knew by Heart, Jewel (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), The Hunt Club, Reed’s Beach, A Stranger’s House, and The Man Who Owned Vermont; and the story collections A Dream of Old Leaves, How to Get Home, and The Difference Between Women and Men; the memoir Fathers, Sons, and Brothers; and the writing guide Before We Get Started.

The Page 69 Test: Ancient Highway.

--Marshal Zeringue