Overture Books
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Mark Childress's novel, Tender, is a little more than just a fine novel; it is a big, all-American, Technicolor dreamboat of a book, as vital and as intense as anything I've read in the last ten years.  The legend is familiar to everyone who cares about pop music and rhythm and blues, but Mark Childress has invested it with an eerie mystery-train vitality that is only available to the talented novelist.

There's something else as well; this is the first novel I've ever read in my life which is more inside rock and roll than about it; through the eyes of Leroy Kirby, Mark Childress has made the mad early days of rock and roll seem not just comphrensible but inevitable.  Beneath the cool prose line of this minimalist epic there is the same raw and feverish drive that propelled the early rockabilly stars as they created a new kind of music. Childress's understanding and love of this new music lends Tender the sort of piney woods authenticity I associate with such American classics as Elmer Gantry and All The King's Men.  

If you care about rock and roll, Tender is going to knock your socks off.  This is a great novel, and as Childress documents the meteoric rise of his talented child-monster-prodigy, Leroy Kirby, he never misses a beat.

-- Stephen King


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About the author

 Mark Childress is the author of seven novels:  A World Made of Fire, V for Victor, Tender, Crazy in Alabama, Gone for Good, One Mississippi, and Georgia Bottoms.  He lives in Key West, Florida.  

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Additional Information

Overture Books
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Published on
Mar 3, 2014
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 Mark Childress is is an artist, with an ear comparable to Eudora Welty's, which to me is the highest praise one can give.  I haven't read a Southern novel since Losing Battles that has given me such pleasure.

-- Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird

The sense of reality with which Childress imbues his characters and their situation is remarkable.  He has the true novelist's ability to commit himself entirely to the people and events he envisions, and this is rare; the reader is certain at all points that the author is not playing with the subject, but writing from deep within it.  A truly outstanding book is the result.

-- James Dickey

A World Made of Fire is earthy, adroit, moving -- an excellent novel by a writer of great promise and talent.

-- Jesse Hill Ford

Mark Childress is a young novelist who has written a memorable story out of the land and people of the Deep South that throughout its length is constantly intruguing with unexpected innovations.  The ever-present undercurrent of mystical events will probably startle many readers by arousing and bringing forth unfamiliar emotions.

-- Erskine Caldwell

A wonderful and powerful novel...Childress's debut in the world of fiction is a cause to be celebrated; he is the real thing.

-- Pat Conroy

Mark Childress's new-fashioned saga is full of delicate electricity and raw power.

-- Barry Hannah

This is a damned fine story.  There is more here than story, though.  This baby resonates.  Mark Childress is a writer of almost uncanny stylistic ability and clear vision.  His eye for detail is extraordinary.  It makes you want to holler Oh yeah! like a guy who's gotten religion at a riverside camp meeting.  It's close; it's luxurious in its rightness; it fulfills the central demand of art...to make us see more in what we always thought we were seeing.

-- Stephen King

A haunting first novel...There is a clear light of genuine story-telling talent shining through it all.

-- Library Journal

In an impressive debut, Childress has produced a spellbinding tale in the Southern gothic tradition.  A writer of poetic acuity, he evokes the atmospher of a small Southern town and brings its inhabitants to life through their colorful, softly cadenced speech.  Childress's remarkable command of language -- he uses imagery with sensuous skill -- his sure sense of plot, fueled by mysticism and mystery, and most of all, his beautifully nuanced depiction of Stella's coming of age, will keep readers enthralled.

-- Publishers Weekly

That rarest of finds, an unsentimental coming-of-age story, A World Made of Fire is also an engrossing mystery.  Wrapped in its tale of voodoo and midnight rides is a detailed bestiary of human emotions and behaviors.  

San Francisco Chronicle 

Mark Childress's first novel is a complex allegory of pagan magic and Christian retribution... Mr. Childress writes his haunting novel with poetic cadences in brief, intense chapters.  He is an author of imagination.  Stella's coming of age in grief and loneliness is drawn wtih graceful authenticity.

-- Valerie Miner, The New York Times Book Review

A startlingly original first novel.  Not only do a great many marvelous things happen, they do so in a time and place so untapped that Childress is able to claim the territory as his alone.  He has marked himself, at the tender age of twenty-six, as a major new fictional voice.

-- Bruce van Wyngarden, Saturday Review

"There is nothing small about Childress's fine novel. It's big in all the ways that matter - big in daring, big in insight, and big-hearted. Really, really big-hearted." -New Orleans Times-Picayune

This exuberantly acclaimed novel by the author of the bestselling Crazy in Alabama tells an uproarious and moving story about family, best friends, first love, and surviving the scariest years of your life.

You need only one best friend, Daniel Musgrove figures, to make it through high school alive. After his family moves to Mississippi just before his junior year, Daniel finds fellow outsider Tim Cousins. The two become inseparable, sharing a fascination with ridicule, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, and Arnita Beecham, the most bewitching girl at Minor High. But soon things go terribly wrong. The friends commit a small crime that grows larger and larger, and threatens to engulf the whole town. Arnita, the first black prom queen in the history of the school, is injured and wakes up a different person. And Daniel, Tim, and their families are swept up in a shocking chain of events.

"Wise, riveting, hilarious, painful, gentle, and ferocious, One Mississippi is a wonderful read." -Anne Lamott

"A Tilt-a-Whirl that flings the reader from comedy to calamity. . . . Childress is a fabulist in the manner of John Irving." -Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"By turns rollicking and troubling, as provocative as it is droll, One Mississippi is about as easy to resist as a riptide. This critic's advice is to go with its powerful flow." -Raleigh News & Observer
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